Last Jan. 1, as I looked out my window, contemplating the winter ahead, I somehow got it into my head that I wanted to try ice fishing. At the time, even I thought this was a bit odd considering just how much I have always disliked winter.
Be that as it may, a few days later I ventured into one of our local fishing tackle stores to inquire as to what kind of gear I might need to get started. I’d always been pretty much under the impression that all a person needed for ice fishing was an old spinning rod with the tip broken off, a reel, some woollen long johns and a five-gallon ice cream bucket to sit on.
Boy, was I surprised to learn just how sophisticated ice fishing has become in the past few years.
There are specially designed ice fishing rods and reels, specific-purpose monofilament fishing lines that will not turn brittle and break under stress in ice cold waters, all sorts of polypropylene long underwear, one- and two-piece Gortex ice fishing suits (that cost about the same amount as the vehicle I drive) and boots that will keep your toes comfortable at minus 50 C, not to mention two-person ice fishing shacks (tents) with zip-up doors, plastic windows and heated padded seats. There are also special sleighs that one can either pull by hand or attach to a quad to pull all your gear around.
The good part was I discovered that a decent ice fishing rod and reel set only costs $50 to $75. Having paid more than 10 times that for a fly rod, I didn’t mind laying out just over $85 for a top-of-the-line Fenwick rod with an Abu Garcia reel filled with Berkley Fireline Micro Ice Fused Crystal fishing line. I even bought an ice fishing shack, a heater and a padded seat that fits on top of my five gallon ice cream bucket. The two-person ice fishing shack with zip-up doors, plastic windows and heated padded seats will have to wait a while.
Speaking of waiting, after having purchased all my ice fishing gear, I found myself waiting for the weather to turn cold and the lakes to freeze over. I waited and waited and waited. Then spring came.
On a more positive note, summer eventually rolled around and I did get to go fishing. Summer is also a good time to buy winter clothing. So this past summer, I searched the local thrift stores for a good pair of Sorel boots. I found a two-piece Ski-Doo suit at a garage sale. I also bought a Montreal Canadiens toque. I figured, who cares what I look like as long as I’m warm.
I also seem to recall tossing around the idea of using a collapsible lawn chair when sitting out on the ice, but decided in the end it would be simpler and easier to just carry all my gear in the ice cream bucket.
As you’re reading this column it is now the beginning of January, and I find myself spending less and less time anticipating going ice fishing and more and more time wondering about global warming.
I would still like to go ice fishing this winter, but I’m not holding out a lot of hope. None of the local lakes are frozen over enough to risk going out on thin ice just to catch a fish.
Maybe I’ll spend my time reading over the recommendations made recently at the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change in Paris. Canada was an active participant and it will be interesting to see what proposals the new federal government has in mind for change right here in Canada.
I might also spend some time planning a few fishing trips for this coming spring and summer.
So, if anyone is interested, I have a fishing shack for sale – cheap.