Keep Your Stick on the Ice

When you spend a long time in a freezer - it's difficult to imagine choosing to go outside when you are not required to get some place or work in the elements.

But, ice fishermen and women love it.

If it's warm enough, all they need is an auger to create holes in the ice and the right fishing gear to find the fish and reel them in.

Monona Bay, just off Lake Monona, is a busy place for ice anglers.  That's where I found these winter sportsmen, and went on the ice to get some pictures.

I think after all these years I still haven't walked on water more than ten times. By the way, it's much easier to do that in the middle of a cold winter.

For me, the sensation of walking onto a lake is a bit disarming.

Intellectually, I understand the ice will hold me, but there is something about it that bothers me.

The first time was as a reporter in Osceola, Iowa and doing a story on a winter jamboree in the county park with lots of Cub Scouts ice fishing on the small lake.  Even there, the loud cracks of ice moving and settling set my teeth on edge.

In South Dakota, I've written about my experience driving the company truck and tens of thousands of dollars of camera gear onto the ice covering Lake Oahe (part of the Missouri River) near Mobridge.  It was a warm day and gorgeous (for January).  But, as the shotgun sounding cracks kept going off, I kept anxiously looking at my truck next to six others parked together on the ice and thinking how far away I was from shore. 

Our oldest son loves ice fishing.  The best story he's told of his experience happeneed several years ago when he and a buddy were on the ice of Lake Eau Claire.  They were sitting in the car to fend off the cold while monitoring their tip-up lines in various holes out on the ice.  The fish they already caught that day were on the ice near a hole.

All was good.  Until a Bald Eagle swooped down picked up their fish and flew away!  Now that's a great fish story.

Maybe if I had been on the ice in a nice fishing shanty (see the movie Grumpy Old Men), I would have taken to it.  For now, I'm happy to tip-toe onto the ice for some pictures and then a quick retreat to a warm car on solid ground.

Spring is just ten weeks away - enjoy the rest of the winter!  And keep your stick on the ice (meaning, don't fall through it).