With Groundhog’s Day in the rearview mirror and six more weeks of winter upon us, I find the winter speeding by rather quickly this year. Perhaps it’s because of all the spring planning …
With Groundhog’s Day in the rearview mirror and six more weeks of winter upon us, I find the winter speeding by rather quickly this year. Perhaps it’s because of all the spring planning and other catching-up from the busy year past that has me feeling this way. Regardless, I was presented with the rare opportunity to enjoy the wintry weather this past weekend, when my brother-in-law called up to plan a day to go ice fishing.
Typically I would have been too busy even on the weekend, but by some miracle, I actually had the time available to go have some fun. Rorick, my son, is now old enough that we could take him as well without risking him getting too cold.
So after some haphazard planning, we met up around noon at the Upper Woods pond and unloaded our fishing sleds to go set up before the rest of the family came over. We chose our center of operations out on the ice towards the northern end and staked out my brother-in-law’s newly acquired ice-fishing tent. Having never had the luxury of fishing with a pop-up shelter, this was a treat for me.
Typically I wasn’t very keen on ice fishing for the simple reason that it takes a lot of work to stay comfortable long enough to be productive. This time, however, the weather seemed to be at least a wee bit forgiving and some of the new fishing gear that we had between us helped make setting up far less arduous.
The sun was out and the sky was a bright, fresh blanket of blue with wispy white clouds passing overhead as we drilled our holes on the ever-thickening foundation of ice. Around us, the tall, coniferous trees sheltered our exposed position on the otherwise wide-open tundra.
In the effort of trying to save ourselves as much work as possible, I brought along my power drill, which attached to a six-inch auger bit, for easy drilling in the ice. As I began to drill, however, I began to smell something out of place. With one hole finished, I moved on to the next, only to notice the drill was beginning to quit if forced into the ice any more than by the weight of its own gravity. Halfway through, I realized that the brush in the drill had begun to catch fire.
With another eight holes projected to be drilled, I surmised that this was the end of the easy way out. Fortunately, we came prepared for this undesirable possibility and broke out the manual auger. Taking turns cranking it down into the 10-or-so inches of ice, we each rested our chests on the top, attempting to get as much downward pressure as possible to expedite the otherwise time-consuming task.
Perhaps halfway through my mother arrived with my heavily bundled son in tow, penguin-walking their way across the lake to us. My sister, Summer, was with them and she toted the various leisure items too, including, but not limited to, two snow shovels (no, I don’t know why they needed two), ice skates and my son’s sledding saucer at the end of a rope.
With the full entourage now accounted for, I took a few minutes to make my son comfortable in the tent on his own stool and with a freshly baited fishing rod. After leaving him with my mother to fish in the confines of the tent, I returned to help Jesse finish drilling and setting our tip-ups.
It wasn’t long after we finished that when my sister announced from the tent area that my help was required, since between her, my mother and my son, the fishing rod had become… tangled.
After messing with the impossible knot for about five minutes, I decided to cut my losses literally and cut and retied the hook, so as to get on with the day. Only after this did I remember I had three more rods all set up and ready to go in my sled, but at least I wasn’t saving the mess for later, I suppose.
It was by this point that my son began to figure out his own means of entertainment. He giggled and squawked as he went in and out of the tent numerous times, stopping only to demand a fresh sip of hot chocolate or an update on the fishing pole he had left dangling down in the icy hole within the tent, for me to monitor on his behalf.
The way out here, a dad’s job is simple when it comes to fishing of any kind. Keep the good times rolling. Whether that means fixing a tangled fishing rod, re-baiting a hook, or refilling the toddler’s hot chocolate, the best part of everyone’s day comes from watching the face of a happy and well spoiled little boy enjoying the best life has to offer, even in the blustery cold of an icy February day.
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