My husband, Wayne, has been an avid fisherman ever since his dad started taking him fishing as a child. Jewett Lake, where we live now, is a beautiful, clean, spring fed lake known for good fishing. Wayne likes the solitude of sitting out in the boat alone, as well as sharing the experience with a friend, or teaching a child during the annual family reunion. One of my favorite meals in the summer is fresh caught fish with baked potatoes, green beans and tomatoes from my uncle’s garden.
For those of you who do not live in a cold climate like Minnesota, it may seem unbelievable that people fish all winter by drilling a hole in the ice. After a sufficient amount of time with temperatures near zero, the ice is 15″ to 18″ thick. Four inches is safe for walking. With 15″ of ice you can drive a truck on the lake.
The ice fishing experience ranges from sitting on a bucket out in the elements with your pole, to lounging inside a specially designed recreational vehicle equipped with heat, beds, sofas, a complete kitchen, and a TV. Between those extremes are tent style shelters and a range of huts on wheels in various sizes and designs.
There are many ice fishing houses of all types out on Jewett Lake. This winter someone plowed a 2 lane “road” from the public access out to an area in front of our house, making it easier for others to tow their ice house to the same area. Some of the fancy ice houses appear to be occupied most of the time with lights on at all hours, making one wonder how much fishing is actually happening. I believe that the amount of time spent in a “man cave” ice house is not necessarily related to how many fish are being caught.
Wayne had done a bit of ice fishing years ago with his uncle on Lake Minnetonka, west of Minneapolis, so he had an idea what was involved. Now that we are living at the lake and needing a winter activity, he decided to try it again. $600 of new equipment and a trip to the bait shop later he was ready to head out on the ice. Wayne’s very old ice auger is not working, so on a couple of mild days he tried his luck with no shelter and using a hole someone else drilled. One fish was caught, but broke the line and got away, so we have not had any fish dinners this winter.
Every year there are a few people who try to go out too early or too late in the season. Ice fishing houses must be removed from the lake by the beginning to middle of March, depending on the location, or risk a fine from the DNR. Or worse, they might get stuck in snow that has melted and refrozen.
We’ll see if Wayne actually catches anything this year. I will be watching from the living room window.