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Ice, Ice Baby

By Brian G. Schommer

No fear oh faithful readers, this column is not about rap music, which, no offense to those who enjoy that genre… it is just not my cup of tea. Mom always said, “if you cannot say something nice, just hold your tongue.” So, as for rap, enough said. Something that is one of my chosen cups of refreshing brew is Ice Fishing. If you have never tried your luck at this wonderful winter sport, I encourage you to broaden your horizons and give it a whirl.

The annual winter excursion to Lake of the Woods is only weeks away and I admit my focus on my day-to-day activities has been waning as of late. Going to the St. Paul Ice Fishing and Winter Sports Show on Sunday, December 5th with Terry John, Scooter and “The Polack,” probably added to my anticipation. I had to look up the spelling of “Polack” because I did not want to accidentally refer to my good friend Steve as a “Pollock,” which is a fish. How Steve got this nickname might be content for a future column; stay tuned.

I finally purchased what to many is the “Holy Grail” of ice fishing equipment; three “Tickle Sticks,” each complete with Black Betty freefall reels. Each rig is a bit different with an ultra-light, light and medium light rods. Last season, I was fishing with the tried-and-true rigs that has served me well over the years and was not going to fall for any gimmicks. After falling behind 5-0 to Terry with nary a nibble, I gave in and said I would use his son Nick’s set-up just to prove that a different rod would catch more fish. I was wrong and sold. If you ice fish, and especially if panfish are your target, I highly recommend checking one of these out. I do not receive any compensation for this nor is it an official endorsement of any company or product. If you do pick one up and have too many fillets in the freezer because of it, feel free to send some my way.

First ice is always a great time for success and bountiful harvesting of fish. From some of the reports off area lakes, this year is no different. If you do venture out during the early season, please be careful and take precautions. With modern technology as it is, wearing gear that not only keeps you warm, but also floats can help ensure your safety. Some very impressive suits from Striker and Clam were on display at the ice fishing show. I heard one guy say, “these cost too much.” That is a fair comment as these suits are not inexpensive and I wanted to ask, “how much is your life worth?” I believe the value of going home to your family would exceed the cost of the suit. So, yes dear, I am thinking about one. It may be my new “Holy Grail” of ice fishing equipment. No matter what, with early ice conditions being very unstable, please be safe and make smart decisions.

If you are a winter sports person, you are not opposed to the cold weather. If you are not, sit back in your recliner, enjoy warm beverages, and laugh at us fools who are. Avid ice anglers need consistent temperatures of the frigid type to build ice stability. If you have never been ice fishing and want to try it out, the Hastings Parks and Recreation Department is hosting two opportunities from 9am until 11:30am on both Saturday, January 8th and Saturday, February 12th at Lake Rebecca Park. These “all ages” events are free, include all equipment, bait, and holes drilled. You need to register, and space is limited. For more information, contact Paige at the Hastings Parks and Recreation Department by email at [email protected] or by calling her at 651-4806182. This is a great way to “Get Out and Enjoy the Great Outdoors.”

December 15, 2021