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Thawing woes: Ice competitions adjusted, canceled due to January thaw

Posted at 3:20 AM, Feb 01, 2024

OSHKOSH (NBC 26) — Deteriorating ice conditions forced the cancellation and adjustment of ice activities and competitions around Northeast Wisconsin.

  • Battle on Bago canceled the ice fishing portion of the event for the second time in its 17-year history
    • Organizers said people can get refunds or raffle tickets if they purchased ice fishing tickets
    • They said they still expect a turnout of around 7,500 on Feb. 16-17
  • Otter Street Fishing Club's Pre-Battle Challenge also canceled its ice fishing and pond hockey competitions Feb. 3, as president Chris Anderson said the ice is too soft
    • Anderson said the club will issue refunds and still host the heated tent portion of the festivities
  • Washington Island Lions' Club's annual ice fishing derby Feb. 10 remains TBD, vice president Ray McDonald told NBC 26's Macleod Hagemen
  • Video shows two ice anglers discussing the cancellations and ice conditions

(The following is a transcription of the full broadcast story)

Ice conditions have caused the organizers of the annual Battle on Bago to cancel the ice fishing portion, more than two weeks out.

We joined two ice anglers — Cole and Evan, you can see them out there — on the ice, where they told me it was a good decision to cancel the event.

"[I'm] obviously pretty bummed out about Battle on Bago being cancelled, but [I] completely understand," Cole Shacheil said. "There's a lot of people coming from a lot of different states, and it's a big safety thing."

Cole and Evan Muncey say there are still five or six inches of ice on bays like this one — but they think they'll only get another week or two of ice fishing on Lake Winnebago.

"I'll be getting my boat out pretty soon," Shacheil said.

The thawing ice on the lake has concentrated anglers.

"A lot of people in the same areas — not a lot of options in that regard, so definitely a very crowded year," Muncey said.

Upcoming ice activities around Northeast Wisconsin are all on thin ice.

A fishing club's pond hockey tournament this weekend in Oshkosh — canceled.

The fishing derby up on Washington Island the weekend after — TBD.

And Battle on Bago — no fishing competition.

"We were going to wait 'til next week to make the call, but given the 10-day forecast," founder Glenn Curran said. "Just [to] give people enough time [so] If they need to cancel Airbnbs or hotel rooms, they can do that."

The organizers say they expect 10,000 people in a normal year, but still drew a crowd when they also had to cancel the fishing competition once before.

"Based on 2017 turnout, I believe we'll have a good turnout," board member Curt Stam said. "There's more than just fishing to this event; there's a lot going on inside the tent."

Which people like Cole are still excited for.

"Definitely going to come out to the tent, have a couple beers," Shacheil said.

The Battle on Bago will still have food, drinks, and music here at Menominee Park February 16 and 17.