In between reffing a high school game and playing in my own rec league basketball game last night, I was able to catch the Wisconsin Public Television documentary on Lake Winnebago sturgeon spearing, "Under the Ice". The video was shot during the 2010 opening day on the ice. You had DNR Sturgeon "Guru" Ron Bruch, several local folks in their shanties and even a few lakeside business owners all discussing the phenomenon that is February on the lake. It wasn't as good as the Wisconsin Supper Clubs documentary the WPT had a couple of years later--but it was fairly informative and didn't belittle the subjects in any way.
That being said, during the entire thing all I could think was "Holy cow, that looks INCREDIBLY boring". Staring at a four foot by six foot hole in the ice for six hours a day? I wouldn't last one hour on one day--much less an entire 16-day season. And I consider myself a pretty patient person--having sat through 7-hour city council, school board and county board meetings where they end up deciding to return the only interesting resolution back to committee for "further discussion". And since an elusive sturgeon might spend only a few fleeting seconds in your hole, it's not like you can turn your attention away from the water--or risk losing your one chance. Ron Bruch said the success rate averages about 13%--meaning you can expect to spear a sturgeon once every SEVEN YEARS.
Now it may have been just the couple of shanties that the camera crews visited that day, but it seemed to me like the hole was a secondary--and in some cases even a tertiary concern for those out on the ice. There were a number of shots that involved beer drinking--and there were a few liquor bottles in the background as well. And I was surprised that they talked with so many female spearers as well. You would think that being cooped up in a dark little shanty for hours on end trying to see an ugly fish wouldn't appeal that much to the ladies.
About the only "cringe-worthy" moment in the entire show was when they were talking with the folks driving out on the ice in full-size trucks--talking about how you "get to know" where the good ice and the bad ice is. I almost had to turn away when they showed one couple driving over the fishing club bridges and there was open water underneath.
So best of luck to everyone hitting the ice tomorrow morning--and be safe. I'd rather talk about how strange I find your love of staring at frozen water than telling our listeners about how you had to be fished out of that water.