Ice Fishing Articles

Ice Fishing For the First Time

Caught ice-fishing.

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 vehicle before.

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 of thanks.

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 caught.



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

Be sure to stop by our Ice Fishing Store, we have something for every hard water angler

Ice Fishing Home  Ice Fishing Safety  Ice Fishing Equipment    Ice Fishing Articles  Ice Fishing Species  Ice Fishing Links  Ice Fishing Store  Ice Fishing Tips

Ice Fishing Fun Facts  Ice Fishing Photo Forum   Ice Fishing Lake Reports  Ice Fishing Canada Map Ice Fishing Search Terms Ice Fishing Canada RSS Feeds