Freezing weather doesn’t stop determined fishers

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Mari Knudson (infographic)

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Just about anyone can go fishing when the weather is nice, but it takes guts to go fishing in below-freezing weather. Ice fishing is not a sport for everyone. Minnesotans who have been ice fishing are in the minority, and die-hard ice fishing fans are rarer still. However, those who have been do have a few fish stories to tell.

As soon as the lakes freeze over, the ice fishing season begins. Ice fishing is not that much different than regular fishing in execution, they both involve sitting and waiting for fish to bite at the bait on your fishing line. However, the ice fishing process is a bit more complex.

“First, you have a snowmobile and a trailer with an ice fishing hut,” freshman Emilio Alvarado said. “You ride the snowmobile out onto the lake with the trailer attached. Then you drill a hole in the ice and put the hut over the hole. You sit in the hut with your line in the water and wait for the fish to bite. Sometimes you have a computer to tell you where the fish are.”

St. Paul Academy and Summit School media specialist Gene Swanson, an experienced ice fisher, says there are varying degrees of complexity of ice fishing. “Ice fishing can be as simple as walking out on the ice with a drill” Swanson said. “All the way up to driving 300 miles and going out on the lake to ice fish for three days with your own hut, which is what I do.”

The most common fish caught while ice fishing include walleye, northern pike, and crappies. “We caught so many walleye,” freshman Weston Lombard recalled.

“We just caught a couple of small things,” sophomore Peter Baker said.

“I think I caught just one sunfish,” junior Bill Naas said.

Of course, while catching fish is the practical goal of ice fishing, the reason so many Minnesotans go year after year has to do with more than just the fish. “I went with my hockey team,” Lombard said. “After that, we went undefeated for the rest of the season and went to state. It was a great bonding experience for the team.”

While many women enjoy ice fishing, it is often a male bonding experience. “I initially went because my uncle, who I went with, enjoys ice fishing,” Alvarado said. “We’ve gone together for the past three or four years. It’s like a tradition.”