It is definitely getting easier for the family to go ice-fishing. I used to have to prep them for days before even thinking about it.
It often required persuasion, subtle manipulation and even bribery, to get my kids to stand on a frozen lake and jig in a hole.
I would not say it is getting routine, but my family is now eager to jump in the truck and take on the adventure.
In fact, it is getting to the point where even my wife is making plans for us to get out and fish.
She planned a date this past long weekend with a work colleague and her family.
We decided to stay close to town and fish Riverdale’s Hidden Lake No. 1.
With toboggan in tow, we journeyed down the icy, or should I say, “dicey” trail.
It was so treacherous that the immediate need for an ice axe and crampons crossed my mind.
We rendezvoused around the narrows and immediately began drilling and prepping holes.
Like a well-lubricated machine, all the boys worked one hole after another, drilling, shovelling and scooping them to perfection.
With the labour complete and the rods ready for a strike, it was now time to work on the other activities of the day. This included making a fire, building a snow shelter, shooting arrows, kite flying, marshmallow eating, hiking and sliding.
Call it either a really short attention span or a spirit for adventure, they seem to enjoy bouncing from one activity to another. On a warm, windless day, with a ton of elbow room, this results in hours of fun.
Archery was the surprise hit, with the kids neatly lining up and following specific, safety protocols. After that, it was snow-shelter building with a bit of kite flying in between.
The intent of our visit was to fish, but as you can imagine with the plethora of adventure around, those static rods were not keeping our attention.
Fortunately, I rigged up a couple of the rods with bells to inform us of any nibbles or strikes. With not a ring to be heard, we all carried on in either conversation or any one of the various activities.
Until, of course, one of the rods, possessed from below, began shaking, bending and ringing with force.
Like at the ringing of the school bell, we all jumped to attention and huddled around this one hole.
I grabbed the rod and immediately felt the weight a large fish frantically darting and dashing. Knowing that my small rod with six-pound test was getting a workout, I adjusted the drag accordingly.
I gently reeled in the line until the fish was in the hole and slowly coming out of the water. I could feel the forces of gravity weighing against me to the point where the line went … snap!
Fortunately, fish don’t swim backwards and I was anticipating the problem. I drove my fully clothed arm down the hole and hoped to get below the fish. I slowly worked my hand up until I made contact and then scooped the fish out.
The fish was a beauty at close to four pounds and 22 inches.
With a new adventure ahead, the boys dropped the other activities and started to focus in on the biology of the fish.