To many anglers’ delight, the recent weather brought snow and freezing temperatures across the Northern part of our country. From Portland, Oregon to Portland, Maine, ice fishermen sharpened auger blades, lubed reels on jigging rods and on tip ups, and headed out catch fish. For some, those ice fishing trips fell in between holiday parties.
But wait, what is ice fishing anyway? Non-believers chalk it up to being one, giant party. There’s always food and drink and in a way they’re right. Ice fishing is a very social sport.
At the core is fishing, and just like other types of angling, there are different levels. Some ice fishermen are a fraternity of hard cores that use a wide variety of electronics to determine water temperatures and drop-off structure, find fish, and catch them up. Some use live bait like shiners on tip ups while others prefer to jig for bass, panfish, trout, or walleye. The range of shelters spans from sitting on a bucket to lounging in a tricked-out shanty complete with couches, heaters and bunks. Flatscreen tv’s are for watching a game.
Food ranges from onion soup and venison stew to freshly fried fish filets. After putting a pout on your belly many ice fishermen strap on some Super Tacs for a pickup game of hockey. Figure skaters twirl around while family members watch, hot chocolate or coffee in hand.
Ice fishing is a celebration of winter. Sometimes the weather is cold, snowy or windy, but isn’t that just the winter equivalent of summer’s hot, dry, and windless days? You know the kind I’m talking about; they’re the ones where you’ll fish hard and when the bite shuts off you jump overboard and go for a swim. For many, this time of year just means you’ll skate instead of swim.