Ice Fishing

March 9, 2015

Saturday, February 7th
At 7:00am I am packing my car for an exciting day of ice fishing. Overcast skies and temperatures hovering around freezing set the scene for a perfect day on the ice. After letting my car warm up, I go through my checklist: bait, ice-auger for drilling through the ice, tip-ups to trap the fish, and safety equipment. I head up the road to get some snacks and then on to the ice. The ice is awesome; 16 inches thick and freezing temps have made the ice thicker than I have seen in years. As soon as I find the perfect spot, I start drilling holes and begin to set up several ice fishing traps. Before anyone even arrives I have already caught a pickerel. The NESS students, a mix of kids and parents, have arrived and I double check they have layered warm clothes. Then, we head off onto the ice.

Once we get out on the ice, checking traps with the entire group is the first order of business. I explain how each trap works and show how to set them. We test to see how deep the water is beneath the ice. It’s up to 18 feet in some spots! A few students set traps in holes that I have predrilled. Next, I let students try out the auger. Its hard work drilling through 16 inches of solid ice but this class is up to the task! Some of the holes take up to 40 rotations of the auger to finish. As a group we drilled a total of about 20 holes. All this work keeps everyone warm.

Finally, as we are settling into “wait for something to happen mode”, a flag on one of the traps goes up. Everyone charges to the hole. It is the first fish of the day and I demonstrate how to catch the fish, a four pound largemouth bass! Success on the ice is measured with lots of hard work, long periods of waiting, and punctuated by moments of action when the fish show up. Despite all the waiting and a slow pick with only a few fish, the group had a great time trying out ice fishing equipment and playing on the ice. Really, ice fishing is a wonderful opportunity to spend time outdoors in the winter with family and friends.