Growing up I heard my dad joke around regularly. Whenever he was asked if he liked to go ice fishing he would automatically respond, "No, I don't like to drink!" It would almost always get a chuckle from the person asking the question. It almost goes without saying that he didn't spend much time ice fishing and would rather either freeze in a river during the winter or stay home with his family. After one failed ice fishing venture with my a boy scout troop some 20 odd years ago (came home without catching a fish and some second degree sunburns on my face - ewwww and ouch) I decided that I didn't want to add ice fishing to my fishing skills.
After moving into our new house and meeting some of our new neighbors I started to open my mind to the idea of trying it again. A year or so ago I felt like I should give ice fishing a try once again. A few summers ago I was given two ice fishing poles with reels (one by my dad and one by a guy I gave some flies to at a local pond). This only increased the itch to get on the frozen water and try my hand at ice fishing.
With the COVID pandemic hitting and the challenges that that brought out I couldn't get my schedule to line up to go out with one of my neighbors. That was, until this last week. I got a text message saying "So I have been checking on ice. I can go Friday the 21 or the 22nd Saturday." I quickly made sure that my wife was ok with me freezing my butt off and going fishing early Saturday morning and she gave me the green light to go fishing.
I took my not spooled up ice fishing reels, grabbed some 4 pound test Berkley Trilene line, and spooled up my reels. After jamming up one of the reels with a poor couple of wraps, I felt accomplished when I saw that they were both successfully spooled up.
Saturday quickly showed up, the alarm went off, I grabbed the last bit of my gear and jumped in the car with my neighbor. An hour or so drive later and we were getting out of the car in the sub freezing weather and getting ready to go fishing. It was COLD. We pulled a sled full of gear out to the ice and drilled 4 holes. Using a manual ice auger is a workout that my body is not accustomed to doing, but I successfully did it.
My neighbor quickly caught a pair of fish and we had some hope that it was going to be a great day. A couple hours of sitting in the cold and swapping stories made it a great day. We didn't have hook another fish in the next 3 hours.
I decided it was time to dig a new hole for me about 20 feet away. I drilled out another hole and dropped my baited jig down and went back to my chair. A little bit later I noticed a nibble happening and I sprinted accross the snow covered ice. I tried to stop about 5 feet from the hole and ended up with my feet sliding out from under me and smashed down to my butt and back and slid the rest of the way to the hole and my rod. I set the hook and it was on!
After a few minutes of play and some maneuvering we were able to get my fish out of the water! It was a beautiful, heavily spotted16-inch rainbow!! My first ever fish through the ice! It was awesome. My excitement was far greater than the pain from my fall! A couple quick pictures and the fish gave a healthy splash as it swam back down to into the cold depths.
It was an experience that I won't soon forget!