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

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