Icefishing: It’s really true

red lake

It’s true. In the winter time, Minnesotans drive out onto lakes, drill holes in the ice, huddle in little houses for hours, and wait. I spent all day last Saturday with my brothers, Dave and Nate, on Upper Red Lake, and then all day Monday with Dave and his friend Bruce on Lake of the Woods. I caught one fish too small to keep, and I caught it about ten minutes before we packed up and left on Monday. I was really pleased.

lowI’m kicking myself that I didn’t bring a camera to supply more documentation, so you’re looking at some generic internet photos used to promote ice fishing vacations. You’ll never see these getaways given away on The Price is Right, but there are thousands of folks out on the ice each weekend in Minnesota.

What are they doing? This is a good question. I think a Top Ten list is the best way to approach this subject:

  1. Drinking lots of cheap beer (Grain Belt is my favorite)

  2. Discussing trucks that went through the ice recently, how they got them out, what fines they paid, and what morons they are

  3. Eating cheesy sausages boiled to perfection in lake water

  4. Grilling venison chops from November’s deer hunt (also done in the cold from small, portable buildings)

  5. Eating venison chops from a “plate” made from an over-turned pickle bucket washed with a handful of snow

  6. Remembering fish that we’ve caught on other trips (necessary because we aren’t catching any on this trip)

  7. Peeing in public under more sky than Montana’s within earshot of the fish house, and commenting on force, volume, velocity, duration, and color.

  8. Privately wishing we’d stayed home to watch the cooking channel and help our wives clean the mini-blinds

  9. Letting go of every gas formerly withheld in polite company

  10. Swearing as if it’s something we do every day without thinking about it

Notice that catching fish isn’t on the list. Dave did haul in a 19 1/2 inch walleye Monday. With that and two smaller ones Bruce brought in, we did feed Dave, Vicki and I Monday night in Warroad. This is about as good as the fishing gets, however. There are other people who do better – who even do well – but these people have never been me or anyone I know. They’re spoken about with reverence and mystery. They’re something akin to Yeti or Sashquach.

Still, it’s a good time. Saturday was a warm day – about 30 degrees. Monday was sub-zero with a wind our of the northwest that made your eyes water after ten seconds.

It was great to be with my brothers and rehash the old days on the farm. What’s more, they provide all the equipment. If you can match their offer, any time you want to go, let me know.



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6 Responses to Icefishing: It’s really true

  1. David says:

    You forgot telling dirty jokes. We ice fish in Northern New Mexico, too. We drill a hole in the ice and line it with canned peas. Then when the fish come up to take a pee, we grab ’em. (Okay it’s better in person).

    Or, Two dogs in a field are standing around. They see another dog on his way over. One dog says to the other, “Aw shoot, here comes Spot. He has such a cold nose, let’s just sit down.”

  2. dalagest says:

    I heard the first one slightly different. It’s how to catch a polar bear. Cut hole in ice. Place peas around the hole. When the bear comes to take a pea you kick it in the ice hole. Thank you Garrison Keillor and the PHC Joke Show.

    And you’re right, I should have included it on the list. Filthy jokes. Just filthy.

    And yes, much to my brothers’ dismays, I told that very joke.

  3. Sarah says:

    Ask Soul Level how to get an elephant into a Safeway bag.

  4. Mr. ADSL says:

    As a preparation for my trip including ice fishing I googled around. So thanks for the inside info hahaha, I’ll keep that top 10 in my mind 😉

  5. Jocelyn says:

    Good times.

    If you’re a little bit crazy.

  6. Jim says:

    If it weren’t for ice fishing, I would go berzerk every winter. The top 10 list is pretty close, but most of us aren’t so reckless. 🙂 Some commentary:

    1) We do drink a lot of cheap beer. 100% accurate. 🙂
    2) We jump right to the moron part, and immediately recount stories about how we should all be that moron.
    3) Grilling on the ice is mandatory – no boiled anything.
    4) Perfect. 🙂
    5) Plate? Your gloves are all you need!
    6) Yes, talk about fishing, but do it to make a plan to catch more fish. 🙂
    7) Well put. 🙂 And lets not forget the beauty of pooping under the stars into a garbage bag lining a 5 gallon bucket.
    8) Seriously? I’d rather spend all weekend in the fish house any time.
    9) Therapy, I call it.
    10) When in Rome…

    And I have to add 11) Catching lots of fish.

    My buddies and I, I guess, qualify as “those people” who do well. We and our families eat walleye, perch, crappies all winter long. It is from no small amount of pure time put in on the ice on particular bodies of water spent fine tuning location against weather, and early, mid, or late ice. We each spend 20-30 days and nights on the ice each year.

    All the rest would be really fun and all – but we actually fish, and fish hard, too, relocating the shack, drilling lots of holes, taking depth measurements, logging GPS coordinates, comparing notes, and plotting bite action to find patterns. Once we execute a plan and get setup for a night, then the fun begins. This way, every night is a new adventure. Some are complete losses, others are paydirt. Fishing at its finest!

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