An ice fishing hut makes a huge difference
It was bitterly cold. The tiny clumps of sharp, rock-hard snow being thrown about by the wind were pelting our backs as we squatted over a hole cut in the ice. It was a fantastic way to spend a Friday afternoon.
A friend named Granger recently asked me if I’d been ice fishing a lot this year. I had to admit to him that I haven’t. I’ve never been much of an ice fisherman. It’s not because I don’t like the cold. I just prefer goose hunting, and the goose and ice fishing seasons tend to overlap.
But Granger’s question got me thinking about the last time I made it out to the ice. I went out to a frozen lake a few years ago with Desi Rivera, who absolutely lives for ice fishing.
Since I was working on a newspaper story, I had to take a few pictures while we were out on the ice. Every once in a while, I’d pull my hands from the warm confines of my wool and Thinsulate gloves to snap off a picture or two. Within moments my fingers were too cold to feel the shutter button on the camera.
Any foot movement on the wind-polished ice was perilous. When I had two feet on the ground, there was enough friction to keep me in one place. Every time I’d take a foot off the ice, though, the wind would take the opportunity to shove me toward the open water at the other end of the lake.
If it weren’t for the scattered spots of rough ice left by previous fishermen and women, I probably would have taken a dunk or two by day’s end.
The danger wasn’t confined to being blown off the solid ice, either. I am admittedly one of the clumsiest people on Earth, and the Mercury-slick surface didn’t help. I surprised myself with my balance and sure-footedness, though. I only fell down 10 or 20 times. I do that on a daily basis in the relative safety of my own home.
Bumps, bruises, numb appendages and wind-burnt skin aside, I had a great time. So when Granger asked me if I would like to go with him next weekend, I said I’d see if I could. Then he said he has several huts, and he’d set one of them up to keep us out of the wind.
“In that case,” I said, “count me in, for sure.”