Ice Fishing Articles
Ice Fishing For the First
My first time ice fishing.
"You want to do what?"
"Ice fishing, mom!"
I watched my son Collin's excited face. He had it all figured out.
First we (which means mom) would phone uncle Andrew, and then uncle
would invite us to go along with him. Since my brother had in fact told
him that, it was not at all impossible that his little scheme would
come true. And I had thoughtlessly promised to go along.
Yes, I was less than enthusiastic. I could not imagine what could be so
nice about ice fishing! Getting cold feet, waiting hours on end for a
little nibble, then walking half-frozen off the ice with all the
equipment. No, that did not look like my kind of fun. But a promise is
a promise, so I made the phone call.
My brother, Andrew, and his wife, Grace, like fishing in any form. In
the Summer they spend days on the water, and in the Winter on the ice.
Wherever they go, rivers, lakes, or the ocean, they come home with
fish. One truck is always ready to go, with all the needed equipment on
board, and a boat, or an ice auger, depending on the season.
It was no surprise to me that they were more than willing to help dear
son with this great adventure. We set a date, the middle of March,
close to the end of the fishing season here in Alberta.
The day arrived, and it was a beautiful day for our first time out. The
sun was shining, so sunglasses were in order, plus sunscreen. Baskets
and tubs were loaded with sausages and buns, ketchup, mustard and
relish, cookies and squares, thermoses with hot water and coffee,
creamer and sugar, and hot chocolate powder. Whatever we could think of
to keep our inner fires going.
The back of the truck was loaded as well. There were the wood, and an
old tire rim with a rusty dryer basket for our outdoor fire-pit. Wiener
sticks were hidden under the black tarp that was part of a fishing hut.
Chairs, a portable biffy, the tip-ups, bait, an axe, scoopers to empty
the ice out of the holes, and last but not least, the gas powered auger
to drill the holes in the ice. It was overwhelming. We would need all
that? Summer fishing looked a lot easier to me, with a fishing rod over
your shoulder, walking down to the creek!
Then we dressed up for the event. I was told that ice fishing is no fun
if you got cold. I totally agreed with that! But since we were not at
all equipped for this venture, we had to borrow. My brother is set up
for that, since he often takes greenhorns on the ice. He had boots to
choose from, extra jackets, hats, and ski pants. Soon we looked like
coloured snowmen, fat and stiff, but warm! The truck's heater was
turned down, and off we went.
It was a short trip. We could see the frozen lake from a distance, and
noticed there were many others who had come to fish on this sunny day.
There were trucks spread all over the lake as far as we could see. That
gave me some peace of mind, since I had never been on the ice in a
But whoa! How to get on the lake? There was water around the edges,
where the sun had already melted the shallow ice. Other trucks had made
deep ruts in the mud. Was there another place? Ha! Andrew did not even
notice my trepidation. He just casually said: " Hopefully the mud won't
get over the axle," and drove straight through the breaking ice floats
unto the ice road. I quietly heaved a sigh of relief and a quick prayer
It did not take long to set up camp. Collin helped set up the fishing
hut for us ladies, which we converted into an outhouse with the pail
inside. This greatly enhanced the experience of ice-fishing for me.
With the chairs around the fire, a tablecloth on the table with
goodies, it felt like a real camp-site.
Andrew drilled the holes, two for each person who had a licence. We all
helped assemble the home-made tip-ups. Each tip-up had an orange tag on
it, that fluttered in the slight breeze, gently moving the bait down
below. Then everything was ready. Now it was a matter of watching the
holes, and waiting for some action.
Grace and I visited, drank coffee, roasted the wieners, and watched the
tip-ups, making a mad dash for them when the line moved. Collin lay on
his belly on the ice with a blanket over his head, looking down the
hole into the depths of the lake, watching the fish swim by.
I tried that, too. What a wonderful water world down below. I could see
clear to the bottom! Then there was the constant 'booming' of the ice,
because it was so cold. Great frost heaves obstructed the ice road in
places. It was a different world, close to the edge of life. Without
the fire and proper clothing we could suffer from hypothermia.
Yet, this introduction to ice-fishing took all my fears away. My feet
did not get cold, and though we had to wait for nibbles, we had success
as well and caught two ling-cod, and two pike. We learned to tell them
apart, measure them, and make a life-well for the fish. It is better to
keep them that way. If Andrew would clean them right away, the fish cop
might have some questions about the size, and the number of fish we
We left when the sun was close to the horizon. It would soon be quite a
few degrees colder. We put the fish in pails, and covered them with
snow and ice. After loading everything back on the truck, we bundled
ourselves into the truck again. We were not able to get off where we
got on that morning. The sun and the many trucks breaking the ice had
made it impossible. We had to drive to the other side of the lake,
where the ice road had not been so damaged. Then we drove home, where
Andrew cleaned the fish in the comfort of his garage. Collin got to
take his fish home, which we fried for supper.
Submitted by :
Alida Van Polanen