The Ice Man Cometh ! ... (I hope)
When I got out of the service (USMC) in November of 1977 a friend casually mentioned that we should go ice fishing. A few weeks later we were standing on a frozen lake trying to figure out how to use the, now considered vintage, spoon auger that he had borrowed. Through the bitting cold wind we managed to drill a few holes and were quickly hooked on this winter sport.
Every winter after that we learned more and more about the sport. Not so normal now but it wasn't to many years ago that by late December there would be good safe ice somewhere within an hours drive. Even the local lakes like Marsh Creek, Ontelaunee, Scotts Run, Blue Marsh and Hopewell would have good ice by the first week of January. Something has changed, global warming I suppose, since then. For the last few years it has been hard to find the lakes around here frozen. Some for just a week or two in late January or early February. Most of the time now just a protected cove will offer the short lived opportunity to enjoy some ice fishing. Even with this current trend I still get anxious in the fall and hope for a good cold old fashion winter.
My past travels include countless local one day trips as well as overnight or multiple day trips to Canada and other parts of the country. Whether in pursuit of panfish or trophy Walleye there is one thing I've learned. That, being simply put, is that ice fishing is one heck of a good time when properly prepared and a nasty encounter with Mother Nature if not.
I recently placed all my normal fishing rods in the overhead rack down in my basement. Stored my two ton tackle box on it's reserved shelf space and they are now tucked in for a long winters nap. I will soon be giving my limited ice fishing gear a wake up call with hopes of getting some use out of them.
In the last three decades the sport of ice fishing has evolved from just a few hardy souls to, at times, a all out party atmosphere on the frozen surface. Advances in protective clothing, portable shelters and tackle have made it enjoyable to spend time participating in this adventure. Take a glance in any fishing tackle store now and you will find a large part of their display is for ice fishing gear. From tiny lures, special light rods, augers, tip-ups, shelters, clothing and other accessories. Even if your new to the sport you can get started with a very minimal investment.
So here is hoping that this winter brings the cold weather back and again allows for four or five good weeks of ice fishing weather. I feel compelled to mention that if you tread out on a frozen lake the one rule to go by is that the ice is never completely safe. I do plan to get out there as soon as possible and will have a bit more to say on this subject in the near future.
Thanks for reading .... "Fishing Fever"