On Ice Fishing

There is nothing like ice fishing from the comfort of one’s own living room 🙂

I’m presently sitting in the warmth of my new “ice shack”, drafting this post, continuously looking up to see if there is a flag. Cindy says that I’m going to hurt my neck.

Looking closely at the picture below, you’ll see 3 traps. They are beyond the hole, that has frozen back over, which the boys made in the ice last weekend. You see, they seem to have made a pact. Every time they visit they will take a dip in the lake. This time it was doing cannon balls into the hole they made in the ice with a sledgehammer. There are videos on Facebook proving this feat 🙂

If my brothers were here at the time, I’m sure we would have been in on it as well. Right Roger…Glen?!?


I wish I would have snapped this photo when the bald eagle flew by, for the second time today.

I have to say, though, I had forgotten most of my ice fishing skills and techniques. The last time I remember setting traps was when I was but a young lad of 14-15. If I recall correctly, my buddies and I went ice fishing on Quakish Lake, just outside of Millinocket.

After setting traps, which I had borrowed from my dad, and enjoying the company of friends, I saw it. That long-anticipated bright orange flag waving in the air! I promptly hightailed it across the ice, hauled the trap out of the water and began pulling up the line. Surprisingly, the mouth of the fish was almost as big as the hole I had made in the ice. The sheer excitement of it all! But then, much to my dismay, it dropped off the line. Yep, that was the one that got away.

Fast forward ~36 years.

Our cove is now frozen over and I’m told there should be fish under that ice. I didn’t dare venture out there until the demonstration put on by the boys last weekend. Since I had a little time yesterday afternoon, Cindy and I took a trip back to civilization to get the necessary gear and bait to again try my hand at ice fishing.

Fortunately, the nearby Walmart sells some of the gear at a fantastic price. Here we acquired:

  • A few traps
  • 200′ of line
  • A ladle (the handle end serves as a chipper to break the ice that re-forms over the hole made in the ice, and the ladle end serves to scoop the newly busted-up ice out of said hole)
  • A depth finder (a fancy name for a weight with a clip on it which you hang on your line and then drop into the hole to determine the depth of the water in the spot in which you are about to set your bait

And, back at home, I had all the other basic fishing gear used in the warmer weather, some of which can also be used for ice fishing (like hooks, silly). In addition, I had the tools to get through the ice: a sledgehammer and pick ax (the latter of the two is the preferred). When the ice gets thicker I’ll be taking my nephew up on his offer to use his ice auger. For now, I’ll do it the old fashioned way…

We then went to the local bait shop to pick up some live bait – and maybe a few pointers on ice fishing (since it had been such a long time since my last experience).

On entering the bait shop, I humbly (more like sheepishly) mentioned to the young lady working there: “The the last time I went ice fishing was more than 30 years ago. Can you remind me of what I need?” Thankfully, there was no-one else in the store to laugh at me, other than Cindy 🙂

I told her what I already had for gear and was reassured that all I needed was the live bait and a bait bucket. Bummer. I have a bucket at home that would have served the purpose, had I brought it with me…

With this confirmation we acquired a baker’s dozen emerald shiners which were dumped into my new bucket. We were good to go!

Upon getting home in the late afternoon, I quickly rigged one of my traps, grabbed the pick ax and bait bucket, and cautiously walked out into the middle of the cove. I carried a long board with me for safety, in the event I broke through the ice.

After hacking a hole in the ice I plunged my hand into the bait bucket and grabbed a shiner. I then wrangled with the little guy until it finally “accepted” the hook into its back. Unfortunately, he stopped wriggling around so much. I just remembered one of the lessons: Don’t injure the spine of your trusty bait, or it won’t be fit to attract your prey.

Today I set all 3 of my traps, properly placing the bait on each so that they could swim around in my attempt to catch supper. For some reason, Cindy is lining up chicken. Where is your faith woman?

We will see a flag yet. I’ll keep you posted!

I will now go check my traps; an absolutely exhausting exercise I must perform about every hour 🙂

Life is good!

3 thoughts on “On Ice Fishing

  1. This reminds me of the time I dug a hole in the ice at Lower Togue Pond, just southeast of Mt. Katahdin, with a Peavey cant hook. It took a while, as the ice was very thick. A while later, I pulled the biggest pickerel I’ve ever seen in my life, out of that whole. During the process, I somehow got my hand in its mouth. With all the blood on the ice, it looked like something got massacred. 🙂

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