What is it about ice fishing that has me clinging to smaller slips of water with pools barely open to cast? Last year’s outings were beyond dismal. Some trips were downright painful. Twice now I have loaded up the ice auger, the short rods and the sled only to ditch plans and hit anything else. I had planned to ice fish. Really. But somehow the truck veers in another direction and my usual gear manages to hop in at the last minute. Then I find myself driving to fishing destinations that are barely open in some spots and mostly frozen over in others.
On the way up I know things won’t be easy and that is open water is available at all. When I arrive there is a moment of jubilation and dread all at the same time. The water is open but only in one or two areas.
Test a few patterns and scare a few fish. Downsize and pick up a few follows. Downsize even more and I get more interest. This is where having fish in front of you can really help. I toss out one color and then another until something seems to light them up. In this case there is no “light” but one decent brown trout coming over to take part in my taste test.
“Yes!” I exclaim as if this were as big as any fish that has nipped my rookie presentations.
Doing my best to wet my hands with the snow nearby I then go for the photo op. Photo ops in February are tough to come by for me. Not for the lack of trying. There are times when a small brown trout like this appeases the annoying twitch of my casting elbow.
Working the few open water pools with the smallest gear in the bag I manage to come up with a few small cutts and a few small browns. Conditions seemed difficult but not impossible. Around 10:30 some angry wind arrived and began blasting its way through the canyon. I say this was angry wind as it tried to beat me up more than regular gusts. At times it would cease just long enough for me to position for a cast. Then it would wallop me again in all directions. Digging sand and snow from my eyes I cast the best as possible. Funny how the distance needed is only a few feet and the wind made even the short casts tough. Finally I get one cast to go into the riffle and where the fish are. Plink! Another brown trout comes to the hand.
This was not a day of hard water and big fish. Most likely larger fish would have been caught had I stuck to the original plan. It may be safe to say that I have developed a fear and loathing of ice fishing. That is the case for this season at least. A few small pockets of water will hopefully hold me through to March.
My name is Matt and I’m a fishaholic.