For some anglers fishing never goes out of season. For these hard-core individuals not even the dead of winter and a thick sheet of ice over the lake is going to keep them from their prey. These hearty souls are ice fishermen and they think nothing of spending hours out in the frigid cold, sitting on a bucket staring at a hole cut in the ice, waiting for that perch or burbot to take the bait.
Ice fishing is a very specialized sport. Even though most fish go dormant in cold weather, they still have to eat occasionally. For the prospective angler to get to them it requires more than a fishing pole and bait; first they need a drill just to find the water and snowshoes just to get to the lake. Also they need very warm clothes.
Ups and Downs
Still ice fishing vacations are very popular. As with any other type of fishing, all types of package tours are available and there are instructors willing to teach the ins and outs (or in this case, probably the ups and downs) of the sport. Ups and downs because that is what the angler does a lot of – dropping the baited line down to the bottom and pulling the fish back up.
Anglers setting out on an ice fishing vacation will need to know more than just how to fish. They also will have to learn how to avoid frostbite and how to recognize dangerous conditions on the ice-covered lake or pond. More deadly than most types of fishing, ice fishing requires that the angler be kept out of the water.
The rods, reels, and fishing line used in other types of fishing will not work here. Ice fishers use very short rods (they are, after all, just dropping a line down an eight-inch hole, not casting) and the line has to be designed to handle the cold and a drop of as much as 30 feet to the bottom.
The most common technique for ice fishing is called “jigging.” This means the angler drops a weighted hook to the bottom and “jigs” it up and down to attract the fish. Once the fish strikes the bait, the angler hauls it up by pulling up the line hand over hand. While lacking the give and take of hooking a leaping trout or a stubborn bass, being able to haul out one brightly colored perch after another has a great appeal to some.
While no type of fishing should be considered strictly a “male activity,” ice fishing has all the “guy” characteristics one could want. First, there is the huddling against the cold, then there is the foraging for food in desperate conditions. For ice fishermen who go on overnight trips, they usually have portable (heated) shanties, carpeted floors (with a hatch to get to the ice), and (most likely) a stock of their favorite beverage. All that adds up to the perfect prescription for male bonding.
If one of the allures of a fishing vacation is to “get away from it all,” then ice fishing should rank near the top.