Ice Fishing Through The Eyes of a Southerner

I’ve often wondered what it must seem like to southern folk who look at us northerners with curiosity and wonderment when it comes to our wintertime fishing techniques.   To those fishermen south of the Mason-Dixon Line, it probably seems pretty strange to walk out unto a frozen lake to do your fishing.   Yet, ice-fishing has become one of the most growth-oriented segments of the fishing industry in recent years.

Last year about this time I was riding in a Las Vegas taxi cab when I struck up a conversation with the cabby.   As the conversation went along, he asked me the typical questions like where you from, etc.   When he learned I was from Minnesota I could see his eyes light up with excitement.   He asked me, “Do you know where Red Wing is?”   My response was, “of course,” since the city is located only about 35 miles from my home.   As it turned out, this 60+ year old African American had spent over $5,000 in preparation to live out his dream…and that dream was to go ice fishing before he died.

He had planned the trip out for years.   Bought a new parka, hired a well known guide, purchased a new camera to record the event, plane tickets, etc.…essentially he wanted to feel first hand what it was like to sit on the ice and fish.   His inspiration??   None other than the movie “Grumpy Old Men,” a movie along with “Fargo” that has done more to stereotype us Minnesotans than perhaps any other pair of cinema flicks.

I regret not getting this cabby’s name and address because I have often wondered how his dream trip turned out.   Here’s a guy who spent a good chunk of money just to experience and say he participated in an activity many of us take for granted.   He also said he offered to pay for his sons to come along, as well as some of his friends…but they all thought he was nuts and refused.  Yet, he moved on with his plans and decided to live out his dreams.   I was deeply inspired by my brief encounter with this individual.

I tried to look at the activity of ice fishing through the eyes of a man who has never seen snow before.   It must be incredible to imagine that people can literally set up a “shanty town” on a lake.

The more I considered it, the more I see a growing number of pop-up portable shelters becoming part of this wonderful wintertime activity.   But nothing quite matches the growth that is taking place with ice fishing, especially in the area of fish houses on wheels.   Check out these web sites to see just how comfortable live has become on the Upper Midwest Lakes:

Today, it is possible you can custom design an ice house much like you would plan out a kitchen remodel in your home.   Indeed, I can see where it might be intriguing for a guy who has never stepped foot on a lake to give it a try when you see how comfortable life has become for many ice anglers.
As for my new buddy the cabby looking to recreate a scene from Grumpy Old Men, I hated to break the bad news to him last year.   But at the time when I was out in Vegas we did not have snow or really much ice to speak of back home.   As I explained to him…in Minnesota, it might seem to many to be like an icebox during most of the year…but sometimes mother nature doesn’t always cooperate with our winter fishing plans no matter how much money you’ve spent or how hard you’ve planned out the adventure.

© 2004 Jim Braaten. All Rights Reserved.   No Reproduction without Prior Permission.