Where we ice fished today (see the fellows walking out?)

Where we ice fished today (see the fellows walking out?)

I gave my husband the best Valentine’s Day present possible.  I agreed to go ice fishing with him today.

Yes, again!  The second time this year.  He suggested it this morning (his other fishing partners being unavailable) and I agreed.  The last venture wasn’t particularly painful and this time we might actually catch some lake trout. 

He’s actually been catching some of our dinners lately.  They’ve been quite delicious.  We’ve had broiled, baked, sauteed and saucy trout.  We haven’t started growing fins yet, but we’re thinking about it.  So it was obviously time to catch some more of the silvery beauties.  (We’re vegetarians….vegans, actually…..except for eating these underwater creatures.)

Off we drove in the Studebaker.  I received an in-depth lesson in following GPS, some satellite system designed to direct you accurately to your last fishing hole.  Since I’ve been taking a mini-break from the computer (except for this blog) I quickly became fascinated with this new technology.  We followed the arrow for about .75 miles.  It was all rather unnecessary, as we were  following a busy “highway” out there on Keweenaw Bay already traversed by hundreds of fishermen, snowmobiles, 4-wheelers and walkers.

We aimed directly towards a familiar tent occupied by our friends Nancy and Don.  They had their limit of six fish by the time the day ended for them at 2 p.m.  I will keep you in suspense about our actual count for awhile.  Because Nancy had roused us out of bed at 6:40 a.m. with some sort of fishing story, as retribution we informed them that they were on “our” fishing hole and would have to move.  Strangely enough, they only laughed.

Our ice fishing tent

Our ice fishing tent

We set up our tent near Nancy and Don’s encampment and began to fish.  We let down the wire line 250 feet.  And waited.  And waited.  And finally the little fish began to bite!  Hurray!  A nibble here, a nibble there.  I tried to figure out when to pull the wire up.  You’re suppose to let them bite once, then fiercely and abruptly pull the wire upwards about three feet to embed the hook.

I still don’t have the technique down exactly right.  The fish bit; I waited.  The fish bit; I pulled.  I never quite figured out how to pull at the appropriate time.  Barry says it’s not my fault.  They were biting very lightly.  Yesterday he brought home his full share, but today even he could hardly lure the trout to bite.  And when they did….he pulled up two very small finned fellows.  Too small.  They have to be 15 inches, and these trout measured 14.75 inches and….well….too small to even get the measuring stick out.

Our fishing hole with the wire (baited with sucker) going down 250 feet

Our fishing hole with the wire (baited with sucker) going down 250 feet

See the greenish-blueish color of our fishing hole? Barry ice-augured it in, through about ten inches of solid ice.  When you close the door of the ice fishing tent, everything is cast in the most strange green hue.  Our tent is made of green canvas, sewed together by a local fellow who has made dozens of these tents (along with his father) over many years.

Fishing wire on the tent floor

Fishing wire on the ice inside the tent

When you pull up a fish (or pull up the wire to check if the fish has already lunched upon your bait way down there on the bottom of the lake) you throw the fishing stick under your lawn chair and then coil the wire in big circles on the floor of the tent.  250 feet of wire lies all askew by the time the hook surfaces through the hole.  It’s quite a production.  When you put the line back down, be careful to make sure the loops of wire don’t get tangled.  Otherwise, you’re in for a challenge.

Fish tally for the day?  Two throw-backs.  No dinner.  No nice fisherman just happening to offer us free lake trout.  (wait a minute….that’s not true….I think Nancy and Don offered us some fish when they left!  But we politely said no, still dreaming of our own catch.)

Happiness quota?  Pretty darn good.  Barry got his Valentine’s Day present and I got another lesson on how to ice fish.  Next time we’re bound to hook some actual fish.  Right?