CHANNING, Mich. (WJMN) – This past weekend, Women on Ice held its annual ice fishing outing to feature women in ice fishing and for women interested in learning more about the sport. The event was held for the first time in the U.P., featuring a seminar Friday night at the Sagola Township Sportsmen’s Club, followed by two days fishing on Sawyer Lake in Channing.

“Last night was a lot of fun. We were able to gather for a few hours and go through little stations,” said Shantel Wittstruck, a ‘Women on Ice’ Pro. “We covered everything from lines and rods to Navionics, ice safety, which is the most important things for women, experienced and non-experienced, to learn. We also covered tip-up fishing, open-water fishing, a variety of different things. Anything that the ladies asked us, even if it didn’t pertain to ice fishing.”

Following the events on Friday, Saturday was focused as a day for beginners out on the ice, while Sunday was intended for ice fishing veterans looking to hone their craft. For Saturday’s participants, getting to hear from expert ice anglers was a big help in learning more about how to become a proficient ice fisher. The event also provided access to equipment that can be a barrier to entry for newcomers.

“It’s probably the most I’ve spent outdoors in the last few years is because of the ice fishing,” said Melissa Shabert, a participant during Saturday’s outing. “So I’m not, I don’t really do a whole lot in the cold, but this definitely will bring me out. And you know having the right gear, and that just is a game-changer, too, for a lot of people. I think when you have the right stuff that keeps you comfortable, you’re more prone to packing up and heading out and setting up and being out all day.”

By providing a positive learning environment with other women helping each other learn and get better, ‘Women on Ice’ hopes events like these can encourage participants to spread the word on their experience, and by doing so helping to grow the community of women ice fishers.

“Women helping each other out, supporting each other, cheering each other on,” Shabert said. “We’re all here for the same reason, to have a good time. To, like I said, learn new things, pick up new tips, tricks, ideas, teach others. Sometimes I find that I can, I learn from somebody else and then I’m able to pass it on to somebody I’m fishing with, some new things that I picked up along the way that I wouldn’t have probably learned or known about if I hadn’t been a part of this group.”

To keep up to date on women in the ice fishing community and for information on future events, check out the ‘Women on Ice’ Facebook page and the Wisconsin Women Fish website.