Given that it had been a mild winter thus far, the thought of bone-chilling cold was not top of mind.
Rather, I was preoccupied with first negotiating the time away from family obligations and, secondly, preparing for my first ice fishing trip of the year. The destination was Squanga Lake and the objective was jigging for Pike and Burbot.
One of the keys to catching Pike this time of year is to take advantage of first light. That sun rising and permeating through the snow and ice seems to trigger an initial and short-lived feeding response.
Determined to set-up and be in a position to pounce on some early Pike, Dave and I left Whitehorse at 7 a.m. sharp.
I don’t recall the temperature in town being drastically cold, but I did notice the digital thermometer in the truck consistently dropping as we headed south.
Psychologically I was prepared for the minus twenties, but physically I was in for a shock when it dropped to the last read-out of minus thirty-five. This was going to be a long, cold day.
Thankfully, living in Inuvik for five years provided me with both the experience and gear necessary to survive and enjoy these temperatures. I must have gained an extra 15 pounds pulling on my padded overalls, Sorel boots, Snowgoose parka and muskrat hat.
With both of us stuffed like Christmas turkeys, we squeezed onto the snowmobile and hauled gear and ourselves onto the lake.
At a minimum, ice fishing for Pike requires an auger, scoop, a rod rigged with heavy duty line, some flashy lures, pliers and a good dose of patience. Dave and I go the extra step and fish with tip-ups, herring or anchovy bait, boga-grips, GPS and a whole arsenal of lure options.
I say with envy that Dave goes two extra steps and fishes with an ice fishing tent, power auger, battery-operated vibrating rods (don’t ask) and an underwater fish-viewing camera.
Needless to say, my Christmas list always grows bigger after fishing with Dave.
To make sure we hit that first light, the first thing we did was to quickly drill two holes and set up some tip-ups. Tip-ups are little fishing rigs that fit over a hole and feature a flag that pops when a fish strikes.
With two lines in play, we fiddled with the rest of the holes and gear. The power auger afforded us the luxury of strategically punching in a number of holes to check depth and structure.
Once we had our two additional holes figured out, we both opted for the more traditional approach of jigging for Pike.
Like tough Yukoners, being out there in the sub minus thirty-five degree temperature did not bother us at all. We kept ourselves busy by checking tip-ups, changing up presentations, cutting bait, drilling new holes and, best of all, catching fish.
Of course, I only credit the heater in the ice-fishing tent a little bit.