Monday, February 15, 2016

The Ice That Binds

The shelter was packed—a mishmash of anglers, camp chairs, jigging rods, electronics, and bottles of booze. Between us and our gear, we were stuffed like sausages in the big red Eskimo, but no one was complaining; hell, it was a goddamn blast. The more lines we had in the water, the hotter the bite got, and it hardly mattered that the fish coming through the ice were a mere six-inches long. We were targeting mouthwatering rainbow smelt; some to use as trout bait for that outing, some for personal consumption later that day. Smoke and laughter bellowed from the shanty doors when they opened to the blustery, bluebird day outside. The shelter’s inhabitants came from all corners of the state; a group of characters that hadn’t all been in the same space since the last smelting trip years prior. It was a common bond of ice fishing that brought us together again.

More than any other type of angling, ice fishing bleeds camaraderie. Unlike surfcasting that can be unsociable at best in the deep hours of the night or fly fishing among standoffish anglers in pressured trout waters, ice fishing is largely about fellowship. From erecting a pop-up shelter in 20-knot winds to tending your buddy’s tip-up line while he plays a big pike to being a sous-chef while bacon sizzles on a 40-year old Coleman grill, ice fishing goes hand in hand with teamwork. That unity is one of the biggest draws for me. That sense of togetherness, more so than safety in numbers, is why I never ice fish alone. What would be the point in that?

1 comment:

  1. So true, very different from other types of fishing.