Fisheries & Fish Industry

The ice fishing season lasts long enough for me

The ice fishing season lasts long enough for me

There is not enough time through the year to golf, but I don’t want to spend any more time on the ice than I need to.

I really do enjoy walking on water and drilling holes to catch some tasty dinner. The season is really short, but I’m not going to complain about that.

Psyching myself up to walk out on semisolid ice takes a full quart of V-8 juice and chocolate chip cookies.

Whenever I head to the lake or pond, as it were, I really have to force myself to block out the cold. Generally I have four layers of clothing plus those wonderful hand warmers, feet warmers and body warmers stuck wherever I can reach.

Then I head out with my minnows, wax worms, life jacket and rope just in case the ice decides to open up underneath me.

And this is from someone who sits on the couch bundled up in a blanket and drinking hot tea when he’s watching football. I have never been a cold-weather person.

Believe it or not, things change, and I actually enjoy shoveling the walk. I’m sure the snow shovel we have belongs to my wife and it works better when she uses it. In fact, I remember buying it for her a couple of Christmases ago.

Back to the ice fishing. Last year I put together a complete ice fishing outfit. I have the one-man shelter, two ice fishing rods, a couple of tip-ups, a hand-crank ice auger, lights, butane heater and MP3 player for my music.

There was a sharp learning curve that first year on the ice. I cut my finger open, I slipped and fell, the wind tipped my shelter over at least twice and I didn’t catch very many fish.

But I’m not a quitter. Losing a finger means less to me than losing a fish. Well, OK, maybe not so much. But I have figured out the nuances that go into giving myself the best opportunity to snag some walleye or perch and perhaps a few trout as well.

The satisfaction I have when I catch something through the ice is pretty neat. But the greatest joy is the quiet time I have while freezing my toes off.

Sometimes I turn off the music and just listen. Generally the other three personalities I have spend time talking to each other. There are times, however, when I shut them all down and try to hear God’s voice in the wind.

If other fishermen aren’t too close by, I’ll sometimes lift my voice in song and in that remind myself how blessed I am to have the freedom to lose the feeling in my fingers.

Whatever the need in my soul, I often find answers to the questions I have by letting God search my heart. I have a Bible app on my phone and Scripture is easy to access.

Most of the time, my interaction with my God is not that deep. I just fall into the comfort of knowing he cares even about the little things we care about.

One day, as an example, I fished for several hours with nary a nibble. Finally deciding that it was no longer productive for me to sit there, I started to pack up and said a short prayer — Lord, please just one, please.

The last things I pack up are my fishing rods. That day, just as I was about halfway through packing up, there was a nibble.

My heart started pumping and I reached for the pole. Slowly I lifted it up and waited to feel the fish take the bait.

I waited, and I waited, and I waited.

Pffffffft. Nothing.

It got a bit colder after that without the adrenaline coursing through my veins.

But as I dragged the sled back to my Trailblazer and felt the cold wind on my face, I realized there was much to be thankful for despite the lack of food for the table.

This is a new year, and I’m looking forward to taking what I’ve learned since then and putting it to use. Certainly, it would be easier to buy some tilapia at Sun Mart, but I like the pain I feel when the blood starts flowing back through my warming fingers.

And now it’s only 75 days until spring.

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