News From Terre Haute, Indiana

March 12, 2014

Redneck Quaker: This fisherman has spent 43 years catching ultimate cold ones

Kenny Bayless
Tribune-Star Correspondent

TERRE HAUTE — I know, it’s getting late in the year for an ice fishing story, but I’ve had several request from you ice walkers!

And there’s plenty to learn from Bryan Holland that can be applied next winter.

Holland is laid back, as nice a person that you will ever meet, so Kevin Vitanieni follows him out on thin ice, even if the only thing they catch is a cold.

Bryan has a history on the ice since he was 12 years old. He has had a lot of luck, or can swim in cold water because he’s made it 43 years. He says a bad day of fishing is better than a good day at work.

Bryan says always take a friend and a cell phone with you for safety’s sake, like when they were ice fishing on Lake Erie when a large portion of ice they were on broke away and started floating away from shore. They couldn’t yell loud enough so that is where the cell phone comes in. They also decided ponds were in their ice fishing future.

Kevin said his dad and him have taken extension ladders to get out to good ice. Yes, they lay them down to use like a bridge, from land to thicker ice in the center of the body of water. No, you should not try this; these guys are hard core fishermen.

I asked Bryan what was his favorite gear and with a smile he said “The cheaper the better.”

Use a short Cain pole, he says, with a foam-type bobber with a tooth pick to wedge the line so you can see the softest bites. A Penman lure with a Bee Moth for bait works the best, with a split shot to help get the lure down.

They use a hand-ice auger to get into a deep spot with tree tops, or a place where a natural flow is traveling through the body of water.

A weight attached to an alligator clip takes the lure to the bottom so you can gauge how far off bottom you want to fish, which is six-to-12 inches, to his liking.

A little bit of movement like gigging helps attract the fish if they are dormant.

He uses the kid’s snow sled to take equipment out on ice. For a seat, he has a bucket with a swivel seat that has a back rest.

In 30 minutes without results, he starts drilling more holes. Depending on the weather and how long the ice has been on, along with the middle of the day for a good bite.

Blue gill, crappie and bass are the preferred species. They say a fillet is so clean and pure from under the ice you can see through it.

Super Bowl Sunday, 30 people enjoyed fish fillets from under the ice. Next year, I better have an invite, although I don’t give a hoot about football.

His top-secret fish batter is, dip the fillets in a milk and egg mixture and then coat them with Italian bread crumbs.

They were eating so fast, their tongues were slapping their brain.

Bryan and Kevin say the end reward is good food and friendship with friends and family.

Some Indiana DNR recommendations:

1. No ice is safe ice.

2. At least four inches of ice is recommended for safe ice fishing; five inches for snowmobiling.

3. If you don’t know, don’t go.

4. Wear lifejackets or floatation coats.

5. Carry ice hooks and rope gear.

6. Never go alone.

Remember the Redneck Quaker loves a good fish fry and will become your friend forever!

Contact Kenny Bayless by email at