Drilling down on Minnesota ice fishing's steadfast allure
Category: Fields and StreamsVia: community • 8 years ago • 34 comments
My late father, a proud Irishman with blue-collar sensibilities, had one prerequisite for ice fishing: Copious amounts of brown liquor. He said he had to be “half in the bag” to tolerate it.
For the first time this winter in many years, I’m going to tolerate a day or two of fishing the hard water, because I want some crappies and bluegills for the frying pan. Don’t get me wrong: I love to fish. If I had one day to live and one outdoor wish, I’d fly-fish for trout on some picturesque western river. A pod of rising brown trout would be gorging themselves on mayflies or caddisflies. Wading in thigh-deep moving water as clear as moonshine, I’d cast dry flies to those ravenous browns until I developed a repetitive-stress injury.
That’s my idea of really fishing, not plumbing the hard water with a two-foot pole as I stare through a Frisbee-sized hole in a contained and claustrophobic environment (see: fish house, a variation on the man cave). I don’t hate ice fishing like my father, but I certainly don’t idealize the pastime. Which, quite honestly, doesn’t sit well with some. Let me explain.
Here in the Land of Sky-Blue Waters, some of my lifelong fishing buddies, those self-appointed culture warriors of Minnesota fishing, have told me repeatedly that anyone worth his or her salt fishes through the ice. And if you don’t (or if you do and don’t love it), there’s something seriously wrong with you.
What they’re really saying is that I can’t call myself a true-blue, bona fide fisherman unless I regularly and enthusiastically fish through the ice. In fact, one of my buddies told me that “you’re really not an angler unless you own an ice auger.”