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Norman and Jan, Ice Fishing for More Than 50 Years


The ice is not as thick as some would like, but that's not stopping anglers from fishing.

The Wisconsin DNR reported things like carrying a cell phone, getting ice conditions updates, carrying a spud bar to check ice thickness and taking extra mittens or gloves to keep warm can help keep you safe on the ice.

However, for Norman and Jan Deffner the DNR tip that works the best is fishing with a friend.

"We are married," the Deffners said. "For 50 some years!"

With the fur around their hoods and their cart ready to go, 77-year-old Norman and 73-year-old Jan pull their ice fishing gear into the sharp wind.

"Lots of layers," Jan said. about dressing for the weather. "I survived this winter with these little hand warmers in your gloves."

They know a couple things after fishing for nearly 50 years together. One, you need bait.

"Here they are," Norman said. "Little white grubs."

Two, you need warm clothes.

"I got two pairs of wool socks on," Norman said. "Sorrel liners in there and these are 2,000 grand insulated boots."

And three, you need to be safe.

"She was from about me to those trees she saw me go down," Norman said.

Norman said he's fallen through the ice twice before, both being in Lake Superior.

"You've got a few moments when the water soaks in on you," Norman said. "Hopefully you can swim out like an eel onto the ice and roll out and get the heck out."

The DNR reported that there are key things you can do when you're ready to drill your ice hole and sit on your bucket..

Look for clear ice. It's stronger than ice with air bubbles in it.
Know where the lake has inlets outlets or narrows.
Watch for pressure ridges or ice heaves.
Use good judgement when driving on the ice.
Remember that ice is never completely safe.

"You don't have time to be scared, to be honest with you," Norman said.

Norman said he isn't scared of falling in again, not only because they're prepared with the right safety gear, but he's got his best friend waiting for a bite right next to him just in case.

"We've had a few arguments in our day," Norman said. "You're not fishing quite right. Why don't you do this? How come you lost that one? You lost your hook too? Oh, my gosh. What next?"

The couple also said they usually don't like to fish on ice less than four inches thick, but they said the best part of fishing when it's thin is that you don't have to use a heavy electric ice auger.


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