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Continued: Anderson: Removing fish houses an adventure this winter

  • Article by: DENNIS ANDERSON , Star Tribune
  • Last update: March 3, 2014 - 3:42 PM

This, I knew, was my new best friend.

“I need a plow guy,” I said.

“No problem.”

So it was a short time later that Welk, chomping a stogie, his eyes narrowing behind sunglasses, rammed his big plow repeatedly into deep snow, with me trailing behind in my own 1-tonner, pulling him free when he high-centered his outfit, and got stuck.

An hour passed. We reached the shack. And a few days later — last Tuesday — we convened again at the same location, this time bringing still more friends to help load the shanty onto a trailer and get it to terra firma.


• • •


Friday afternoon I sloped down to the St. Croix once more to see what progress other anglers were having removing their wares.

As I did, I was confident my shack troubles were ended for the year. And confident, too, I wouldn’t get stuck, because I brought my four-wheeler for transportation.

The first guys I stumbled upon were Woodbeck and Delougherty, with the embedded SUV and deadbeat transmission.

Sympathetic to their plight, I nonetheless could offer no help.

Next, I met a fellow named Tony, who along with a handful of friends faced a big challenge. Days earlier, they had been fishing on the river in a portable shack, following a north-south plowed road that was perhaps 2 miles long.

But when they attempted to leave, the road was blocked by a fish house that had been abandoned.

“So we had to leave our van on the ice,” Tony said, pointing to a dark spot in the distance.

“Now it’s drifted in. We need a big plow.”

“I know just the guy,” I said.

And I called Dean Welk.

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  • Saved by a big plow truck: The ice fishing house owned by Dennis Anderson and his son, Cole, was reached, finally, on the St. Croix River after Dean Welk of North St. Paul blasted through about a half-mile of drifted, hard-packed snow with a 1-ton Ford rigged with a V plow. Fish houses were due off the river at midnight Saturday. Doubtless, given snow conditions on the river, some are still there.

  • Sufficient ice has formed on most Minnesota and Wisconsin lakes to support vehicle travel. But deep, hard-packed snow is widespread, and often must be cleared by plows.

  • Many fish houses are built on skids that are designed to allow the shanty to be pulled across the ice. But the skids often don't work well in deep snow, requiring trailers for house removal

  • Plows have been required statewide in recent days to remove fish houses. On Upper Red Lake in northwest Minnesota, houses freed from the ice sometimes were pulled through as much as 2 feet of slush to reach land

  • Kyle Thompson of Cottage Grove shoveled his way through slush Friday on the St. Croix.

  • Anderson became stuck on the river in his four-wheeler and welcomed help from anglers.

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