It’s Wrong to Think About Ice Fishing Right Now

February 9, 2009 by  

Our Outdoors
Nick Simonson

It’s wrong to think about ice fishing right now. Especially since I reeled in two healthy, hard-fighting, late summer smallies from under one of my favorite bridges during lunch today. More so because I spent last night attempting to trace the flight patterns of mourning doves over a cattle pond. And additionally, the day before that, I was out searching cut fields for guffawing grouse, which lauged all the way into the horizon as my shot sprayed over, under and around them. We’re in between summer and fall, a great time to be outdoors enjoying the last few warm days, yet here I am, thinking about ice fishing and the winter months surrounding it.

It happens every year about this time, so I don’t know why I am so surprised. However, I find myself thinking of how fun the upcoming hardwater season will be. But I know by the end of February, I will be absolutely miserable, hunched over my fly tying desk, thinking that each fly I create will make spring come just a few hours earlier. I don’t know why I look forward to it, knowing how it will end, but I do.

One of the big reasons many anglers, including myself, look forward to the ice fishing season is due to the gear associated with ice fishing. I’m not a gear-centered outdoorsman, preferring simple tools on the water and in the field; but I have my share of tackle, rods, guns and equipment. The most expensive pieces of equipment I own pertain to ice fishing – a portable shack, a Vexilar, spring bobber rods an auger and more. And just when I think I have it all, there’s something new. That is why I love getting the first Reed’s catalog, or the new In-Fisherman Ice Fishing Guide for the upcoming winter. I spend October and November viewing the new innovations on every page until the staples fall out and the binding gives way. From ice shacks to depthfinders, the latest tweaks on the old and the brand spankin’ new are on every page. I might as well start drawing up my Christmas wish list now.

As that holiday time of year relates to the region, it is then that the first layer of fishable ice covers the water of smaller lakes. It’s a perfect Christmas present, maybe more so because it comes a few weeks early. The first tenuous steps on a frozen water are an experience only ice anglers and the twelve disciples can relate to. There is the nervousness of sliding out away from shore, trusting an unseen force, but there is also the excitement of incredible rewards. The first part of the season is often the best, and missing out on an early ice bite, as I so often do, is a shame. It is a time of big fish, and they look even bigger when magnified through four inches of clear, fresh ice.

Then there are the various little things that set the ice fishing experience apart from any other in the outdoors. Like when a buddy shows up midday with deer sausage and a frying pan, and starts up lunch on the propane cooker for everyone on the ice. Or when a wolf pack of pike cruise through the area setting up three or four flags and everyone in the group takes off in a different direction in an attempt to haul them in on tip ups. Or those times, after a new fallen snow, driving out onto the planar surface of the lake where the possibility of a successful outing rests, blanketed under a blanket of pre-dawn stars and sheets of white and the scene is nearly surreal.

All of these visions and experiences draw the mind to ice fishing, and despite frigid temperatures waiting around the corner, as sure as a drop on a slow-climbing roller coaster, I look forward to it with mixed emotions. Though I know I shouldn’t be thinking about it right now, with months of hunting and many weeks of openwater fishing still available, I still do, and I probably always will be looking ahead to those adventures on the ice…in our outdoors.


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