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'Hard Water' Fishing Sure to Beat Blues

January 26, 2015

Antigo Daily Journal

Antigo Daily Journal

With the exception of a dog chasing a crow, there is perhaps nothing more optimistic than an ice fisherman.

Just do the math:

Give or take a few gazintas, Remington Lake contains 20,286,180 gallons of water, the equivalent of about 7 million fish bowls. Cole Musolff’s hole through the ice is maybe a foot in diameter, a very tiny window to a watery world.

The dog will likely never catch the crow, but the same can’t be said for Cole. The 12-year-old has had great luck catching supper on the manmade pond and he’s beating the wintertime blues every time he’s out on the ice.

“Hard water angling” within Antigo’s city limits is available on Remington Lake, just off First Avenue for fishermen Cole’s age along with disabled adults. The three basins that make up Antigo Lake downtown follow regular fishing regulations. On any given day, portable shacks and four-wheelers dot the ice with anglers setting tip-ups and jigging for everything from stocked trout to northern pike.

“Fishing is a great opportunity for all ages and ice fishing allows anglers to continue to hone their sport skills during the winter months,” Sarah Repp, who helps city residents and visitors manage winter doldrums on a daily basis through her work as recreation department director, says. “We encourage everyone to enjoy ice fishing within city limits.”

At about 20 acres in size during the winter months, Antigo Lake offers the greatest variety of fish, ranging from bluegill, perch and crappies to northern, largemouth bass and trout.

Dave Seibel, fisheries manager for the Department of Natural Resources, stresses that normal regulations do apply, with anglers age 16 and over requiring a license. Trout, common since the lake is downstream from the running waters of Spring Brook, are not in season and should be released, he says.

Things are a bit different at Remington Lake, which technically carries the unappealing description of an “urban fishing pond and retention basin.”

The lake started as a pond constructed to hold storm water in 2010 as part of a big utility project in that part of town. Instead of creating an eyesore, the folks in charge took a little more thought and time and created a great little pond.

Levi Fernauld built benches for his Eagle Scout project in 2010 and a fishing pier, installed through a cooperative effort, was added in 2012. Future plans call for adding a few trees and perhaps a shelter.

The lake is designed for youth ages 15 and under and qualified disabled fishermen and is regularly stocked by the DNR, Trout Unlimited and Northwoods Sportsman’s Club.

Cole and his friends are regular visitors, usually catching a mess of trout and a few other varieties to take home and fry up for supper.

“My biggest was about a 14-inch trout,” Cole says. “Lots of times, between me and my friends, we’ve caught 14 trout.”

Anglers of other sorts enjoy the little pond as well. Bald eagles regularly hang out along the shore in the summer months, when picking is easy after stocking. The crew has a few wonderful photos of an eagle or two on the shoreline.

Seibel admits that ice fishing offers challenges not found in other types of angling.

“It’s a way to be active in winter and be out in the fresh air. It can be a challenge and people like a challenge,” he said. “And nothing tastes as good as a meal of fresh fish.”

Cole agrees.

“You never know if you’re going to like something, like enjoying time outside, until you try it,” he says. “You’re only going to be around for so long, so you should be spending it outside.”

Outside...beating the winter blues.

Beating the Blues in Antigo is a limited-term feature examining how to enjoy the wintertime at home, without even leaving the city limits. Stay tuned because over the next few weeks, the blues crew will be skating, snowshoeing, sledding, and maybe even trying a hand at pickleball. For comments or suggestions, e-mail us at