Ice fishing on the Keweenaw Bay

Ice fishing on the Keweenaw Bay

OK, we weren’t really walking on 220 feet of liquid water.  It was more like five to six inches of solid ice.  The edges of Lake Superior are freezing, and ice fishermen are swarming on the bays, creating green and brown and purple tent-cities in the favored fishing spots.

Today’s Outdoor Adventure was Ice Fishing.  I did not approach it quietly and agreeably.  In fact, at first I suggested that a docile walk in the woods might prove preferable.  My husband disagreed.  He thought Ice Fishing would be a worthier pursuit.  Please, would I re-consider?  (All of his other fishing partners not being available today….)

We walked out about a half mile from Jentoft’s Dock.  About twenty other tents dotted the horizon.  The sounds of laughter, ice augers, spuds and conversation floated by in the quiet early afternoon hush.  The temperature was surprisingly mild; the bank thermometer later read 28 degrees.  My feet still felt cold, but not unbearable.  He augured our two holes and set up our green tent. 

We fished for several hours.  Fish report?  Zero fish caught.  It’s Barry’s fifth trip this season and he hasn’t caught a single trout yet.  He’s challenged….he says this hasn’t happened since his first year of Lake Superior ice fishing during the winter of 2002-03.   Last night we were forced to visit a local restaurant for a walleye and whitefish dinner. 

We enjoyed our hours together this afternoon, nonetheless, heating up vegetarian chili on the camping propane cook stove.  I learned about a “gabbu”, a bobbing stick, upon which sucker or smelt bait attaches to the hook and sinks down to the bottom.  You hold the bait about five inches above the bottom, bobbing your stick up and down, awaiting the hungry lake trout or burbot.  Apparently, on some winter days, there’s a bite every few minutes.  Not today. 

Me in the ice fishing tent

Me in the ice fishing tent

After about three hours we decided to trek in off the ice.  Barry efficiently loaded everything in the sled and prepared to pull it in.  I offered to help; he declined.  Just as we reached our truck, a young lad pulled over in his car and asked about our luck on the ice.  When we shared out hard-luck tale, he asked if we’d like the two lake trout he caught. 

Would we?  “Sure!”  I said brightly.  We thanked him profusely for the offerings.  As he drove away Barry shook his head and said, “Charity!  We’re accepting charity….”   I don’t know about him, but who cares if it’s charity?  We’ll enjoy our first lake trout from Lake Superior tomorrow night.  The lake provided, even if from another fisherman’s “gabbu”…. 

Barry pulling the sled off the ice

Barry pulling the sled off the ice

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