Ice-Fishing Tips

Brian Haydin is the President of the Great Lakes Sport Fishermen, a local organization dedicated to the enjoyment, preservation and improvement of salmon and trout fishing in the Great Lakes. He’s also the Milwaukee Chair for the Wisconsin Conservation Congress. Brian lives in Bay View with his wife and two kids (8 and 15) and enjoys spending time in the outdoors with the family where they hunt, fish, forage and play. He recently shared some tips about getting started ice-fishing at Lakeshore State Park:

The fishery: Lake Michigan doesn’t freeze over, but its harbors and lagoons can provide plenty of ice for a safe trip out from January through March (although recently the warm weather has made ice-fishing unsafe) His favorite place to ice fish is the Lakeshore State Park lagoon where one can find panfish like sunfish and perch, as well as larger, world-class game fish like brown trout and salmon! Unlike trolling for salmon on the lake, where you need a lot of specialized equipment, ice fishing in the lagoon can be productive without taking a huge bite out of the wallet.

Dressing for the weather: The wind along Lakeshore can be biting as you are more exposed to the elements. Dress warmer than you think you need to, then add another layer. While on the ice, wear waterproof boots to keep your feet dry, and wear waterproof pants as you may find yourself kneeling to grab a fish.

Safety Gear: The minimum thickness of ice to be considered safe is 4 inches, which may not sound like much, but 8 inches is enough for a light car. Even so, ice is rarely uniform as things like currents can change the thickness in spots. A spud-bar can be used to test the ice as you are walking. A pair of hand-help ice picks to hang over your jacket will greatly aid you in getting out if you have the misfortune of breaking through and slip-on cleats can help you walk on the ice confidently.

Drilling Holes:  An ice auger will make quick work of breaking through the frozen water. A power-driven auger isn’t necessary as a hand-cranked one works fine, saving money. You will need to keep the hole clear of ice once you drill it, and for that, pick up an ice scoop. 

Fishing Rods:  There are two general types of rods to get your baits and lures in the water; a jigging rod or a tip-up rod.  A jigging rod for ice fishing is really just a very short fishing rod.  You will attach a bait or a lure to the line, and pump it up and down to create some action.  A tip-up is a standalone device that you place over the hole, and after setting it, will trigger a flag to indicate that a fish has struck.

Baits and Lures: At Lakeshore, you don’t need much.  A couple of small spoons or jigging-specific baits will work well for a jigging rod.  For tip-ups, you’ll need something that does the work for you: either a minnow or a spawn sack (a small sack of trout eggs) on a hook, which then drops to roughly 1-2 feet off the bottom. For tackle, Brian recommends heading to R & R Sports Fishin’ Hole on Layton Ave in St. Francis where Roger and his wonderful crew there can help you pick out the right lures and baits.

License: A Wisconsin fishing license is required for those 16 years of age and older. A license can be purchased at https://dnr.wisconsin.gov/topic/Fishing/outreach/FishingLicenses  or a local authorized retailer. In addition to your standard fishing license, you will also need a Lake Michigan trout stamp if you are targeting brown trout and salmon.  In Wisconsin, each licensed angler may have up to 3 lines in the water at any given time. Be sure to review the fishing regulations at https://dnr.wisconsin.gov/topic/fishing/regulations for more information such as catch limits.

Advanced Gear: While there is a world for specialized equipment, Brian recommends starting with the basics, having a great time, and enjoying the day with your fishing friends and family! For those wishing for a more in depth fishing experience, consider underwater cameras and flashers to tell you when a fish is near. There is a vast variety of supplementary equipment, some which can significantly increase your chances of a good catch . 

Photos from the Park, Jan 20th. Brian and son drilling holes, checking ice depth (then 9"), Brian's warming hut. Jeff Casey with brown trout caught further north in the lagoon.
Photos from the Park, Jan 20th. Brian and son drilling holes, checking ice depth (then 9″), Brian’s warming hut. Jeff Casey with brown trout caught further north in the lagoon.

If you are looking for a more in-depth introduction to ice fishing, the DNR is hosting free ice fishing clinic on February 11th at several local parks.  While targeted at kids, all are welcome! Brian’s club, the Great Lakes Sport Fishermen, will be hosting the clinic at Greenfield Park.  You can also visit them at the Journal Sentinel Sports Show from March 7th-10th where they’ll have both ice-fishing and trolling gear on display with experienced fishermen to answer questions. 

Christmas in the Ward

The tradition continues! 

Friday December 1st Friends volunteers and the DNR will be making s’mores at Christmas in the Ward.

Please stop by, say hello and get warm by four fire pits while making these tasty treats. Donations using Square or cash will be gratefully accepted. The event starts at 5:30pm with fireworks around 7:25pm.

Membership Matters

Membership plays an important role to ensure the continued growth and protection of the Park in many ways including maintaining trails, enhancing wildlife habitats, and promoting environmental education programs that inspire visitors of all ages.

Through Dec 15th, new and renewing members of Friends of Lakeshore State Park are eligible through a random drawing to win one of the thank-you gifts below:

As a member, you will contribute directly to vital conservation initiatives and ongoing improvement projects. Your support is essential to the continues success of the Park. 
Please consider making a donation below today!


Park Pal Memberships
Individual: $25

Family: $50

Prairie Patron Memberships
Rock Prairie: $100
Fox Prairie: $250
Kid’s Prairie: $500
Big Prairie: $1,000
 

Thank you! to the following members who recently joined or renewed:

Sarah Fierek
Vincent Vogelsang
Andrew Funk
Kate Retzlaff
Cheri Meyer
Lora Keller
Joseph Guenwald
Helen Dahms
Paula & Vance Strother
Susan Crowley
Kae Donlevy
Sharon Wolfe
Dan & Pat Fetterley

Volunteer Spotlight

The Friends of Lakeshore State Park is an all-volunteer organization, with one part-time administrative assistant; we are a small yet strong team! Volunteers are key to our success, and we are excited to recognize our 2023 Volunteer of the Year, Allison Driskill. Allison helps tremendously through her management of our social media, help with the newsletter and planning and participating in park events. Thank you Allison!

Learn more about Allison as we discuss her experience volunteering with FLSP.

What is your favorite season to visit the park?

Spring, when the Baptisia alba is blooming!

Why did you start volunteering with Friends of Lakeshore State Park?

I used to take my dog, Jackson, on walks around the park which he and I really enjoyed. When he died, I decided to see if the park needed volunteers to honor his memory and give back to a place that brought us joy when he was alive. I get to make a big impact with this park in particular due to the small nature of the volunteer group and how publicly accessible this park is to both visitors and city-dwellers alike!

What is your favorite thing to do in the park?

I really like walking around and seeing all the different native plants that I can identify. Seeing the succession of species blooming throughout the season is always amazing!

What is your favorite plant or animal that is in the park?

Obviously I really like the showy Baptisia alba (Wild White Indigo), but I also love running my fingers through Panicum virgatum (Switchgrass).

Why are accessible spaces in nature important to you?

When I first started coming to the park, I didn’t have a car so this was the first state park I had visited in Wisconsin. I know that I can take anyone to the park, no matter their athletic ability or the vehicle access. The paved paths allow anyone to view a slice of nature.

Why are public parks important to you?

Patches of greenery in public spaces are not only important slivers of habitat for native animals who have been displaced by human populations, but it is also a benefit for us as well. Going out in nature is calming and good for people. Access to nature should be a right available to anyone, even if they live in the city.

Do you want to volunteer with the Friends?

We could use your help! Please complete a volunteer interest form.

Donor Spotlight

The Friends of Lakeshore State Park are grateful for the generosity of individuals and organizations in support of our mission. Over the past two years, the Greater Milwaukee Foundation (GMF) has funded a park educator and diversity intern who deliver impactful educational programs at the park for so many. We are thrilled to let you know that for the third year in a row, we have been awarded a grant from the GMF towards a park educator and diversity intern at Lakeshore State Park! 

About the Greater Milwaukee Community Foundation: they work to inspire philanthropy, serve donors, and strengthen communities now and for future generations. The foundation strives to help the greater Milwaukee area become a vibrant, economically thriving region comprised of welcoming and inclusive communities that provide opportunity, prosperity and a high quality of life for all. With nearly a century of experience, the foundation has vast knowledge and expertise surrounding community needs and challenges and what resources and partners it takes to meet them.

Membership Matters

We value our members and believe you share our vision of maintaining and improving this remarkable natural gem for generations to come, and we continue to extend our warm invitation to join the Lakeshore State Park Friends.  

Membership plays a pivotal role in ensuring the continued growth and protection of the Park; it helps us maintain trails, enhance wildlife habitats, and promote environmental education programs that inspire visitors of all ages.

Through Dec 15th, new and renewing members of Friends of Lakeshore State Park are eligible through a random drawing to win one of the thank-you gifts below:

As a member, you will contribute directly to vital conservation initiatives and ongoing improvement projects. Your support is essential to the continues success of the Park. Please consider making a donation below today!

Park Pal Memberships
Individual: $25

Family: $50

Prairie Patron Memberships
Rock Prairie: $100
Fox Prairie: $250
Kid’s Prairie: $500
Big Prairie: $1,000
 

Thank you! to the following members who joined or renewed in October:

Laura Herzog
Bob & Carol Diggelman
Angie Mack
Andrea Van Sumeren
Naveen Lalit Kankate

November Park Events

UPCOMING EVENTS

Friday, November 10th: Veterans Hike, 12:00pm-1:00pm
Wednesday, November 15th: “Rock your Mocs” Hike, 5:30pm-6:30pm
Friday, November 24th: #OptOutside Hike, 11:00am-12:00pm

Our park educators offer a wide variety of programs for both kids and adults, such as fishing clinics (no license required for children 15 and under) and events that focus on nature education and exploration, all designed to be hands-on and family-friendly.

For details on events, please visit the FLSP Events Page.

SAVE THE DATE

Christmas in the Ward!

The tradition continues! Friday December 1st Friends volunteers and the DNR will be making s’mores at Christmas in the Ward. Please stop by, say hello and get warm by four fire pits while making these tasty treats. Donations using Square or cash will be gratefully accepted. The event starts at 5:30pm with fireworks at 7:25pm.

Want to help with events, programs or otherwise?
Please complete a volunteer interest form.

Colder weather doesn’t mean all activity at Lakeshore State Park has slowed.

Spawning trout and salmon can be seen leaping from the water as they make their way to the shallow waters and gravel beds best for laying eggs. Bluestem grasses have turned an autumn orange, the flowers have all gone to seed, and you can practically smell the pies in the oven.

This month is one of the last times to soak up fall, and when we start to feel grateful for our families, our friends, and our planet. As we relish the last moments of flowering plant life for the year, we can feel grateful for organizations which help keep our parks functioning at their best. We can help these organizations in several ways, such as giving our time to weed out invasive plants, donating to fund more educational opportunities at the parks, promoting organizations that help facilitate both, and more. Giving to organizations that matter to the planet during this season can provide a feeling of warmth that helps stave away the chill as winter starts to wrap its icy grip around our city. 

Donating to the Friends of Lakeshore State Park helps fund things like educational collaborations with the Friends of Wisconsin State Parks and Audubon Society, new equipment for the staff and park rangers, and free events for the public. As Milwaukee’s only urban state park, your support can help make nature accessible for anyone, regardless of their ability, language, or access to transportation.

Someone without a car can access this park, and it may be the only state park they have had a chance to visit. Anyone who visits here can see birds, butterflies, bees, foxes, and fish all within this urban patch of prairie by the lake – just by taking the Gold line bus to the lakefront! Your donation to the Friends of Lakeshore State Park helps support the DNR to keep this park accessible, educational, and an island of natural habitat right in the heart of Milwaukee.

Kiting at Lakeshore State Park

Catherine Piotrowski appreciates Lakeshore State Park in many ways. As a Prairie Pal, she enjoys planting, weeding and culling the short-grass prairie along with the other members of the Garden Club of Greater Milwaukee. As a long-time Milwaukeean, Catherine likes the beauty of the lakefront. And most of all, she loves the clean wind that happens at Lakeshore State Park.

A wind that blows predictably with no obstacles like trees or tall buildings to go around is a clean wind and it’s a gift to kite-flying. Catherine has been kite-flying since retiring from teaching Spanish in Milwaukee Public Schools over a decade ago. She enjoys single-line flying of delta kites and dual-line flying for larger kites and inflatables, such as her 21-foot tall skeleton kite, but she really lights up when describing quad-line flying.

Quad-lines are for making stunt kites dance. With skill, four lines and the right wind, she can make stunt kites pivot, hover, spin, swoop and loop. Catherine choreographs routines to music and performs them at kite festivals around the country. She enjoys the challenge of adapting to the wind conditions of the day, as Catherine says wind- “shift happens”

She, her husband and their 100 kites can be found at Milwaukee kite festivals as well as ones in Washington, Florida, Oklahoma and Montana. They travel to find good wind and meet up with kite-flying friends. They particularly enjoy mentoring those new to kiting. While in Washington state they spend a day teaching children aged 3-12 how to fly a kite and coach them through kite skills games.  

To learn more about kiting, go to one of Milwaukee’s three annual kite festivals at Veteran’s Park: Cool Fool Kite Festival on New Year’s Day, Memorial Day weekend and the first weekend in September for the Frank Mots International Festival. Or look for Catherine at Lakeshore State Park. After a morning of volunteering in the prairie, she can be found with her kite catching some clean wind. The Friends of Lakeshore State Park will be hosting events with kites at the park; look for more info in a future newsletter 

Clockwise: Catherine with some Prairie Pals who won’t let wet weather dampen their spirit. There’s lots of open space to learn to kite. Large kites from Wisconsin Kiters. Have you noticed the kite within the railing on the Grobshmidt Memorial Bridge?