There were periods here last summer; I would spend up to three nights a week fishing this lake after work. I’d show up sweating like crazy, waiting for the heat of the day to finally end. Today, this morning, at eleven above with the lake frozen solid, it’s almost like waking up on another planet. If Rod Sterling skated past me right now out on the ice I’d probably laugh.
The snow scrunches when I’m walking around and I like that; there are no bugs and I really like that. Nobody else is here yet so I know I’m the first guy to pop the top on this sheet of ice this year, that’s cool too.
I get everything packed, I think I checked all the gear half a dozen times this week just so I wouldn’t forget something, but I check it all again before I head out onto the ice. I’m just buzzing inside; it’s another fishing season to me.
These first few steps, it’s not like riding a bike. It’s the same old ice, but in all my years, this frozen water never keeps from finding new ways to put me on my backside, so I stride ever so slowly to begin with.
I know exactly where I’m headed, it’s a mid-lake cabbage patch that seems to hold perch and pan fish all year, it’s a lot faster with the boat to get to it in the summer, much easier to locate with weed fronds sticking right out of the water, during duck hunting season I cheated, I gps what I hope is the honey hole and so I move one foot at a time closer to a black dot with so much potential.
When I arrive at the black dot, the gps starts to blink; I shut it off, tuck it away, and drop the tow rope. I waddle back to my sled, reach for the auger, and down I go. Yeah it’s the same old ice and the only good thing about falling on it, is that no one else is here to see me.
I rise, and so does one long exhaled chunk of frozen cussed words.
After drilling my holes, I set down, feeling half mad, sort of sore, so I decide, I don’t plan on moving for quite some time. I flip the lid of the portable over my head; I set the heater on high, drop my bait, and hope for the best.
The trout whisperer
In the fireplace is all that color and it sends forth such warmth that my feet edge ever closer to the hearth. My wool socks start to get to hot, so I withdraw the digits to a more respectable distance.We have a semi-circle of perched feet in jostled chairs vying for the warm effect.
Our glasses seem to be in constant need of filling and we as a group tonight don’t feel the need to be marchin after ice and the jug of internal warmth, especially after how colds it’s been outside so we skip the cubes and on an as needed basis, we pour it straight and pass to the needs of all present. It’s just too cold, to be too concerned.
As we reheat our innards the conversation has made its way round to what we did and what we will do. We go over last year’s deer, ducks, fish and so forth. We muse with what we will try to tune or tweak for next year.
The conversation moves at the pace of every so often a log of wood gets added to the fire and some new thought is mulled over.
From across the great room comes a shot heard round the house and we bolt upright from our warm lazy stupor. A log, in my log home, pop’t, from the outside air temps, a log of many logs piled that kindle the warmth within.
It’s too cold out and blessed be the warmth from within but the logs can’t be hot and cold lain as if that’s just fine and dandy like us so they start to sound off.
If the wood had a spirit it must want to scream for the cold as the barked logs years ago scribed mitered and chinked in place aren’t allowed to move and for the wood blazing away in the fire rapidly being consumed so the logs groan and rifle shot about the house.
After we drain the jug, the night somehow has consumed us as well. Each guest off to a bunk of his or her choosing and I damper the fire. One last check of the temperature outside. I shake my head at the low number. A log goes off almost in agreement.
The trout whisperer