Perseverance pays off when ice fishing

ice fishing
Once the fish started biting, they really started biting. Patient anglers were rewarded with 12 fish. (Julie Geiss photo)

It was a typical winter day in Ohio; monochrome shades of gray transitioned from the sky down to the fields blanketed with snow. Flecks of amber leaves dotted a few trees and matched the cattails around the pond.

“Look, it’s a flock of turkeys,” my son shouted from the back of our SUV. “It’s actually called a rafter of turkeys, but some people say flock,” I told him quickly.

The turkeys were gleaning grain from the dormant field. Their feet scratched away the snow and their keen eyes searched for bits of food. Along the edge of the field, they snatched up acorns and seeds. We turned away from the turkeys and made our way across the field towards the treeline.

Four-wheel drive engaged, bouncing and jarring within the depression between two fields, we made our way to the pond. Inside our vehicle was nothing like the peaceful turkeys grazing in the field.

I could hear squawking and yelling. It sounded more like a gaggle of geese. What could possibly cause this elation?

Frozen ponds

Finally, the ponds were frozen. For the first time in two years, we could go ice fishing. The back of our vehicle held buckets, poles, tackle, and an auger. We were ready for this frigid endeavor.

The first time I went ice fishing, I told my husband the short poles were cute. He shook his head, but also explained the reason. In ice fishing, the lure is dropped directly down into the hole, there is no need for a long pole and casting.

Reason won over impulse when we arrived; nobody ran out onto the pond. The ice had to be checked first. For a single fisherman, 4 inches of ice is adequate. For our larger crew, we wanted it a slightly thicker.

The four kids took turns with the auger, making the seemingly endless turns until at last the chilly water burst and bubbled up onto the ice. We ran a rope as a life line from the land to the hole in the ice, checking to make sure it was resting in the snow.

Waiting for a bite

The hooks were baited with wax worms and dropped into the water. Then it was the hardest part, waiting for a bite.

“Be careful, don’t get the tip wet,” my husband reminded the kids.

We waited and then waited some more. The lines were motionless. The kids became less observant. They ran and slid on the ice. Snow angels appeared on the pond. Amber fibers scattered across the white expanse of the pond when cattails were shredded.

There was a change in moods when the sun set and yet we still hadn’t caught a fish. Forlorn looks had replaced the previous jubilation.

My youngest son requested, “Can we come back tomorrow?” “Of course,” we replied because if anything should be encouraged it’s perseverance.

Day-two success

The next day, enthusiasm returned to our crew as more family members made their way out on the ice. The kids noticed one angler had small ice picks hanging around his neck. If the ice were to break the picks would provide traction and grip while seeking safety on the slippery ice.

My husband made a modification to the auger and attached his cordless drill. He had a glorious Tim the Tool Man Taylor moment out on the ice.

After safety checks were repeated, everyone settled down hoping for better luck. There was a chunk of time when nothing happened and we feared for a repeat of the day before. However, there was quick movement on one of the lines. It was a bass.

Fervor for fishing increased after one fish was caught. It was like the anglers and the fish were rejuvenated simultaneously. Suddenly, the fish were biting.

A combination of bass and bluegill were caught bringing the total to 12 fish. It took a day to clean the fish. The filets were dipped in egg and then a combination of cornmeal, flour, and baking powder. Finally, we were able to eat a fish dinner. It’s easy to forget about frozen fingers when eating fried fish filets.

As we lit a fire in the fireplace and cleaned up from dinner, the fishing tales began to grow. There’s something about a full stomach that leads to exaggerating. Success also leads to planning more outings, looking for new lakes and different fish.

With our current weather conditions, there will be many more frosty fishing trips in our future.


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