Wausau, WI, Thursday, Feb. 14 – In the Team USA huddles, there have been no mentions of the fact that it’s Valentine’s Day. For coach Brian Gaber and assistant Jason Gruett, it’s the eve of the final practice day before the World Ice Fishing Championships get underway Saturday. It’s coming up on 9:45 p.m., and the coaches are still going over strategy with co-captains Myron Gilbert and Mike Boedeker.

Earlier, the entire team met for several hours, after coming off the ice on Big Eau Pleine Reservoir, site of the event. In organized fashion, they took turns reporting on what they found during the day of practice fishing.

The teams will have one more look at the ice today, but only from 9 a.m. to noon, and only (as has been the case all week) outside the actual zones where the competition will take place.

Meanwhile, as I get ready to post this update, back in the coaches’ hotel room, the captains meeting goes on. To the best of their ability, Team USA’s leaders are setting up the final practice session (often called pre-fishing) to mirror what they might do once the gun goes off Saturday and it’s for real. What-if scenarios are mapped out and gone over and over. It sounds very much like the process football teams go through when scripting their first series of plays, knowing that adjustments will likely be necessary based on what their competitors do, and how many fish the Americans are catching. If you’ve been around fishing, the terminology is familiar for the most part, but there are other terms tossed around that make you think it’s a hockey game they’re talking about.

And if you have your doubts about just how serious these icefishing teams might be, check out this video from Team Mongolia.