Even though I do not believe in astrology, ghosts or bad luck from broken mirrors, I am a bit superstitious when it comes to fishing. Most of the time I can control my “fishing paranoia” and play through whatever comes my way while remaining mentally solid and unshaken. However there are times that make me convinced that there are unseen forces that impact my fishing success. My current ice-fishing season is merely one example.
I tested the ice in my usual manner. From shore I place one foot on the ice and then slowly apply all of my weight. There was no give or creaking so my feet moved further away from shore. At about 10 or 15 yards out I drill a hole. The ice is a solid 5, almost 6 inches thick.
“That is a good sign.” I drop bait and wait…then move on.
The area I want to fish is near some wood structure that pokes out of the ice from submerged island structure. 10 to 15 yards from the structure I drill another hole. Once again it is nearly 6 inches thick and solid. Drill, drop and wait. After trying a few different baits and presentations I drill another hole and repeat and repeat and repeat. By about 10:30AM I have drilled 6 holes in a triangulating pattern with not so much as a nibble.
Sunshine would occasionally break through the clouds. I could feel its intense warmth expanding the ice slightly but only for a moment. There were a few loud pops and cracks now and then but nothing out of the ordinary. The ice seemed solid enough and held a steady 5 or 6 inches everywhere I drilled. A light layer of crusted snow lined the top as well and showed no sign of melting. Now if I could just get the fish to bite.
“Drill one more and then we are going to move to another section of the lake or possibly a different lake altogether.” I think out loudly to myself sometimes. “Lucky number seven should pull out a fish. Let me check the ice over there.”
I merely walked 10 feet from where I had just drilled towards the log structure and Fooosh! My foot goes straight through the ice and into the water. To my horror I could see the ice below me was a mere one-inch thick. My body weight was falling forward and I quickly shifted back to my other foot while trying to move my body away from the weaker ice. WOOOOSH! The ice underneath me gave way and I fell straight down into the water up to my chest. The coldness of the water doesn’t really sink in until the water goes through the clothes and your body heat is erased. For a few seconds the body only feels wet. At this point “panic” is the real enemy. I need to keep it together and get out of this mess before things turn south.
My hands reached for the side of the ice and thankfully it was solid enough to hold my weight. Then I attempt to “beach” as much of my upper body on the ice. This may take several tries until you get solid ice. Then I simply rolled my body onto the ice. I find this works a lot better than trying to lift my entire body up using my arms. The rolling motion transfers the weight over a larger mass making things easier all the way around. Not sure where I picked this up. Maybe all that Discovery Channel is starting pay off.
Can you believe this is not my first time falling through? It was absolutely ridiculous. I have flirted with “bad” ice and paid the price on a few occasions. For this I only have myself to blame. But on this day I had solid ice on 98% of the lake. I just so happen to find the one weak spot on the lake that was super thin (possibly due to a gas bubble deteriorating ice). The structure itself could have collected heat making the ice thinner than the rest or possibly a combination of all factors. Nevertheless it was a scary moment where once again I was thankful to just simply come out alive. None of my gear was lost in the incident other than the camera I complained about all through 2009. The ice bucket shot was saved along with the memory card from camera #9 and the best shot that POS ever gave me. Maybe it’s #10 by now. Who is counting? The camera itself turns on but pretty much shot. Good riddance. Camera #11 is good to go and will hopefully provide some great shots for 2010.
Needless to say my current ice-fishing season may be cursed and it is really cutting into my shameless fish bragging. I am starting to think that I just may have to resort to voodoo.
My name is Matt and I’m a fishaholic.