I think the end of ice fishing season is within sight, especially if the record warm temperatures we’re flirting with persist much longer. Overall it’s been a fairly decent season for those of us who aren’t comfortable walking on water. From mid-December to mid-January the thermometer rarely cracked single digits, and we spent a whole lot of time below the zero F. mark; as a result, the ice, even on some of the more fickle lakes, is deep and solid. Even though the thought of falling through the ice evokes sheer terror in me, including dreams of such events on some nights before ice fishing, I’ve been comfortable on the ice this season. That says a lot.
Since Holter Lake, a reservoir about an hour south from here, is the place to be for perch fishing due to their record population numbers, along with some dandy trout, we ventured out for several attempts this year. Instead of bringing in dozens as in past years, we learned it’s why the sport is called fishing instead of catching. While we didn’t always come home with much to feed us, we did return with fun memories, which is what it’s all about anyways.
The first few times we ventured onto Holter it was extraordinarily windy. If Sam would have held the snow shovel firmly during one walk out to our fishing spot, I’m convinced he could have gained significant speed sliding across the ice. We were bundled in our winter gear, but the wind still cut right through us as we fished those first few of test holes. Once we decided to stay put, Grant set up the ice shelter and we stayed absolutely comfortable… especially with hot cocoa I brought along in the thermos.
When fishing is good, time passes quickly, but that’s not the case when the perch and trout are either not in the area, or seem to have lost their appetite. Today was one of those days. When we first set up, I caught a perch right out of the gate so we thought we were golden. I had another one on a short time later, but the hole had frozen over and it slipped off before breaking through the ice. Then it was crickets. To occupy ourselves I put on Luna the Wonderdog’s harness, and had her pull the boys (one at a time) on the runner sled. I had to run ahead of her to get her to go. I don’t think she’s going to qualify for the Iditarod anytime soon, but it was sure fun and heaven knows she needs the exercise.
For me, once the concern of the ice shattering below my feet pulling me into the icy water is allayed, it’s easy to have a good time whether we’re catching fish or not. In that respect, it was a good year.
And, speaking of fishing the hard water, I do have an article in Outdoor X4 magazine on page 70 of Issue 19 about the sport that makes people think we’re crazy. This is a really great publication put together by a fun group of people and I’m tickled to be part of it. Here is a link: http://current.outdoorx4.com/publication/frame.php?i=379802&p=&pn=&ver=html5
One of my favorite interviews for this piece was with Dr. Gordon Giesbrecht of the University of Manitoba who is the expert (I would say in all of North America, if not the world) on cold water immersion. He uses himself as a human guinea pig and performs research studies only found in my nightmares. But I’m amazed by his work and follow everything he does.
A lot of people think we’re nuts to be on the ice for hours during the winter, but as long as the ice is as safe as ice can be and we dress appropriately, it’s a good way to while away the winter days.