Posted by: tlnemethy | January 27, 2013

The Precise Angles of Ice Fishing

Fishing is fishing. You cast and you reel, all the while hoping to fill your bucket with a creature that to its last breath will try to impale you on its spines. You can grab them under their bellies or jam a thumb into their mouth, but even though they don’t have teeth you just might get pinched. I’ve had an infatuation with fish since I was little. Though most of my fishing trips ended with me bored and playing with the fish already caught and swimming around in our bucket, there is a little something I enjoy about the pastime. Fishing in the warmer months always pisses me off because I have to deal with the inordinate amount of black flies and mosquitoes pretty much driving me insane with their incessant whining and biting. That and I always come home with a strangely patterned sunburn, especially if I was in a boat.

Sure, weather is a tradeoff when catching fish: it’s only fair that I suffer in my attempts to eat you. I try to think of it as being a good sport. And if that’s the case, there is no better sport than the ice fisherman. I don’t go outside very often, and if there is a winter weather advisory or even a bitter breeze that chance drops down past the record low temperatures. The single exception is when I get an opportunity to go ice fishing.

This weekend, I followed my dad out to the town lake, not even sure if there was a thick enough layer of ice to support us. I was wearing enough layers to annoy an avid parfait enthusiast and really felt a lot like the little brother from A Christmas Story. I rocked a pair of leggin type pants under a windproof and waterproof pair of fishing pants; my legs never get cold, or so I’m saying because I refuse to buy extra layers of bottoms. On top I was wearing a cold weather UnderArmor long sleeve, another athletic long sleeve, a flannel, a fleece ski jacket, bandana, and an old work jacket with a broken zipper. Pretty sure I looked like an ice cream cone. Heavy on top and just a wee bit crumbly down south.

We set up our tip ups and waited for some sort of activity. The waiting game is always the hardest for me. I get thinking about how cold my fingers are getting, how I should’ve stuffed some newspaper in the toes of my boots for added insulation, or how the last fish I pulled up flailed water onto my face and now I can only see through a thin layer of ice on the left lens of my glasses. Waiting is a problem because then I get to thinking about how cozy and lazy I could be, instead of how awesome its gonna be to eat some fish.

I’m not exactly a fishing expert, mind you, mostly I just follow the flags and hope I don’t just rip the bait right out of the mouth of the hungry fish. I tend to do that, just completely fail when the fish is on the line. CIMG3331 If I were fishing alone, I’d most likely grab a spot on the ice a short walk from the parking lot because watching me slide and shuffle my way anywhere of distance requires a lack of humor and a quantity of time. Most of the time I probably get to dad’s fishing spot a few minutes after he’s already started drilling holes in the ice. Sure, he wears creepers to keep from flailing on the ice, but the gutsy way to ice fish is to take little baby steps and awkwardly slide your boots forward instead of taking steps like a normal human being.

I always wondered how my dad lined up his fishing holes pretty much spot on every year when the lake freezes, but this year he let me into the secret of angles. Apparently, the avid locations scout that he is, he lines up a certain landmark to the edge of the lake on two sides and connects them at a 90 degree angle to find his prime fishing spot. I can’t argue with the man. The logic seems to be panning out since we pulled up 16 keepers the first night, and those were only the ones he deemed fitting for the plate and the palate. Generally speaking, I would eat anything that I caught, but he has higher standards.

They may seem like little itty bitty fish, but catching them left and right, with all the bad fishing luck I’ve had, is the best part of any fisherman’s tale. P.S. Check out that janky broken zipper. I can’t even get out of the coat the right way, I have to wiggle my way through the gap and most of the time my arms are so stiff from layering that I need assistance.

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