The frigid temperatures that are finally hitting us may just soon give me an opportunity to partake in what may just be my favorite outdoor activity — ice fishing!
You either love it or you hate it. There isn’t much in between. Or perhaps, some just don’t understand it? Mention that you’re an ice fisherman and you get either a thumb’s up or a look that insinuates that you may have a mental disorder.
Honestly, ice fishing may just be my favorite outdoor activity of all.
I’m not alone. There are plenty of us out there who love — no, cherish — the chance to get on the ice for a day of drilling holes and dropping frozen lines.
Why love ice fishing, you say? For me, after a long season hunting deer in nearly complete solitude, quiet, focus and deep concentration (Which I love, by the way,) ice fishing is a total and welcome change of pace to get with some buddies and enjoy some laughter and time outdoors.
Unlike deer hunting, ice fishing is usually a social event, with several conversations, jokes or memories being told at once. Heck, to be honest, sometimes I spend as much time sliding from one hole to the other just to chat it up with people as I do with a line in the water. That is a part of the sport I enjoy.
My son, Nicholas, thinks taking a grill out on the ice to fry up some fresh, firm winter fillets is the best thing in the world. He may just be right! Fish just taste better when plucked from frozen water. The flesh is firm and full of flavor.
Good friend Jacob Ireland feels that, “Ice fishing is kind of like bow hunting for me. I like the challenge it presents.”
And there is a challenge to it. You can’t cruise the lake with side imaging and find all the best spots and fish with ease. You have to work for them, drilling holes and dragging your stuff around. But success found through effort is always much sweeter than that found with ease.
Ice fishing also does something that open water fishing generally does not — it brings fisherman together.
Creep up on a guy fishing on open water on your favorite lake and you’re likely to get an ear full. On the ice, however, l may holler over and ask you to come join us.
Also, let’s be honest, even during the raw, blustery days in the middle of winter, Mother Nature still shows off her splendid glory. Glimpsing a sunrise or sunset, or the frozen, almost eerie beauty of icicles hanging from tree limbs are wondrous sights to behold, and they just don’t look the same through a window. Being right out there with them makes you appreciate them more, makes you feel as if you a part of them.
Think of ice fishing as somewhat of a party on the ice, something akin to the sand bars on the lakes during the summer. While this may sound like a bit of an exaggeration, the feeling and the atmosphere can be the same.
Camaraderie, food, slushy adult beverages and, most importantly, the chance to go fishing in the middle of winter all set the stage for why ice fishermen don’t just look forward to the freezing temperatures, we pretty much yearn and beg for them.
With all of this being said, ice fishing still probably isn’t for some people. If you don’t like having fun, laughing or catching fish, then you should probably stay away from it.
And on a much less light note, people do die each year by falling through the ice in Indiana. This should in no way deter you from ice fishing. It should deter you from making dumb decisions.
Always play it safe, first and foremost. Have the proper safety gear, never risk venturing out onto unsafe or questionable ice, and always know the condition of the ice before you ever step on it by using a spud bar. If you don’t know how to check for safe ice or conditions, wait until you can have someone who can go with you.
If you currently hold a valid 2021 fishing license, it is still good through the end of March 2022.