I am admittedly NOT a fisherwoman or huntress. (and bit miffed that WP marks ‘fisherwoman’ as misspelled and not ‘fisherman’ – LAME!!) I like all my meat to come in little packages so I can continue to disassociate where exactly this food comes from. If I had to hunt for my food, I would most likely be a vegetarian.
My sister-in-law invited us up to her beau’s cabin on the lake for an ice fishing derby. It was a weekend-long event that had prizes for the largest fish of each type, quantity and other things. I was told it wasn’t really about the fishing, it was about the partying! OK, I was down for that.
Many of the shanties here were basically nylon tents with a thick plastic frame/bottom what would fit over an icehole for you to fish from. Ask the internet to show you some crazy or expensive shanties. Some folks are over the top nuts for their shanties!! The one below was Jim’s (Sis-in-law’s beau). It was nice to have a wood burning stove for warmth, even though it was 46F that day. It made the ice just a tad slushy, which (IMO) made it a bit easier to walk on. Everyone had little clips of spikes that attached to their shoes…. aaaand here’s me in my fashion knee-high boots. I’m not usually the ‘city-dressed’ person in the great outdoors, however, these boots are aces on the ice & that was why I was the only one to NOT go down into the slushy ice and have swamp-ass for the rest of the day 😉
Making an icehole is pretty easy work with this guy helping you out. The ice was still 10 inches thick at the center of the lake. Contrary to what many think, the center of the lake is where the thick ice is, it gets shallower as you go towards the shore. At this thickness, it is completely safe to drive on it with an average vehicle.
There were ATV’s, snowmobiles, go-carts, trucks, golf carts and many other kind of vehicles on the ice this day.
So, how exactly do you ice fish in the 20th century? Apparently, it’s almost all automated for you! Hence the event was more partying than fishing. See the contraption below to the left? This is your monitor. When a fish bites the hook trailing under the ice, the flag will spring up. Jim’s particular model would emit a loud squeal when released. However, most models didn’t carry this extra and most folks just waited for anyone to yell ‘FLAG’ and point in the direction of the sprung trap. Anyone that heard the yell would also yell and point in the direction everyone else was pointing. Hopefully, you weren’t too drunk or too far away from your holes (you got 3 for the tournament) and would be able to get to your hole and retrieve the fish before it escaped. The guy to the right has a 20″ large mouth bass (Micropterus salmoides) in his hands. So far, the biggest for the day. There were also northern pike (Esox lucius) and walleye (Sander vitreus) being caught.
There is still a bit of skill necessary after the flag goes up. The flag assembly is placed aside the hole and the line pulled up. May times the fish will become detached from the hook if the line is pulled in too rapidly or it fights its way off if pulled in too slow.
Here is my sis-in-law pulling in a small bass. Not big enough to keep, by law, but if in a survival situation, a nice meal!
All in all a fun experience! Everyone was friendly and even shared the spoils of fresh fried fish! Yummy! And just like Las Vegas… What happens at the lake, stays at the lake…
© Ilex – Midwestern Plant Girl