HAVE been looking over back numbers of various sporting magazines and was surprised to see so few articles on ice fishing. I wonder what the reason is? It can't be that there are no articles written on this winter sport, for in some localities there are hundreds of men and boys who take part in this sport and surely some of them write up their experiences. I think the solution is that the editors think ice fishing pretty tame sport and refuse to print most of the articles. Of course I may not be right. I know it is great sport and am going to try and tell my readers, so that they can try it.
First, I am going to describe the outfit that one needs, and then I will tell you of a trip that I made last winter and of the success that we had. The first thing is line. We used a medium heavy line, about the same as you would use on a pole for pickerel. I can't tell how much line you will need, as that will depend on the number of holes you cut and the depth of the lake or pond. The size of the hooks will depend on how large the fish run, about I-O will be big enough for the average pickerel or pike. The hooks should be attached to the line with a wire leader, as pickerel will wear the line off after you catch a few.
Signals are next in order, and you may purchase them of your sporting goods dealer, or make them yourself. They can be made out of. The best bait for pickerel is live minnows; you can get these of some fisherman that lives near the lake, or of your sporting goods dealer, or you may be able to get them yourself. Next is a shovel, ax and ice chisel. One can cut a hole with an ax; but if the ice is eighteen or twenty inches thick, it is a great deal easier to do it with an ice chisel. You should have some kind of a skimmer to clear the ice out of the hole; one can be made out of an old pan by punching a lot of holes in the bottom, or you can use a pail.
Now if there is a lot of snow on the ice, deep snow, snow-shoes are handy; if the ice is smooth, skates are fine if you can skate. If you can't skate, it is well enough to have ice creepers on your rubbers, as they will save you from a tumble.
Just a word about clothing. If it is a cold day and you are fishing in an exposed place, you want to put on all the clothes you can stand up under. A heavy pair of woolen pants and a heavy sweater and mackinaw will keep the cold out, a cap that covers the ears and woolen mittens or gloves for the hands. For footwear, about two or three pairs of woolen stockings and leather top rubber shoes are about the best thing. Of course there are days when one may fish in his shirt-sleeves; but on a warm day you are more likely to get wet, so it is better to have a cold day for fishing.
I think I have made it clear, what one needs for an outfit for ice fishing; of course one may vary it to suit himself and the location.
One day this winter I received a letter from my hunting and fishing chum, Jack. He said fishing was good in the lake and for me to come up as soon as I could. He said to bring nothing but a camera, as he had everything else. Two days after receiving the letter I was at Jack's house, ready for a fishing trip. The lake was about two miles from Jack's house and he suggested that we make the trip on snow-shoes, as" the snow was good depth and we would need them on the lake. All we had to carry was some food, as Jack had hired a cottage on the shores of the lake for the winter, and the outfit was all there.
We planned to stay over night and come back the next afternoon. We left Jack's house about eight o'clock in the forenoon and I tell you it was fine tramping over the fields and pastures, after being inside for weeks.
It was a little warmer than I liked for snow-shoeing; but for all that we enjoyed it. We found the cottage just as Jack had left it a week before. We soon had a fire going in the kitchen stove and we thought we would get cur dinner early and then have a long afternoon for fishing. We both got busy preparing dinner and soon had it ready. How good it tasted! Baked beans (the home kind that we brought from Jack's), bread, butter, doughnuts and a mince-pie; coffee and real cream, also from Jacks. Jack farms some when he isn't hunting and fishing. We didn't hurry about our calling, it there were six and eight pound pickerel out in the lake waiting to be caught. Jack said we would leave the dishes until night, as we would have a long evening and one could wash them while the other was getting supper.
For our fishing operations we selected a place in front of the cottage and cut twelve holes; we didn't need heavy sweaters on while we were doing that.
The ice was about twenty inches thick. We used the ax to start with and finished with the ice-chisel. One has to be very careful, or he will lose the chisel. Your hand will get cramped and you are liable to let go. The way 1 did was to tie a cord into the middle and around my wrist and it saved the chisel from going in once.
After we got the holes all cut and the ice chips baled out, we sat up our signals and baited up. We used live minnows that Jack had got from an old fisherman that lived near the lake. We hooked them through the tail, just back of the fore ward fin, and as Jack said, you are almost sure to get the fish that gets your minnow.
We began at one end of our line of holes and had got up to the tenth hole, when Jack said, "Flag up," and beat it. I stayed and watched, I saw Jack reach down and take- the line, then give a quick jerk to set the hook, then quickly pull hand over hand. Soon I saw six or eight inches of a fish appear above the ice, then a splash, and I though I heard Jack say something; I am not sure. What he said to me was, "Well, I made a good beginning, didn't 1?"
"You may try the next one," he told me, and soon another flag went up. I hurried to the hole and got the line, gave a jerk, but failed to hook the fish. I was as disgusted as Jack; but he said not to feel badly as we would have enough for supper yet. Jack was right, for we were fairly busy until the middle of the afternoon, when they stopped biting. We had fifteen fish in all, ten pickerel and five pike. They were not grandfathers, but good fish, from eighteen to twenty-two inches long. They never catch any fifteen or twenty pounders in this lake.
Jack said it was no use to fish longer, so we took up our lines and signals and went to the cottage. Our fire wasn't out and we had plenty of hot water for our dishes. We washed them and dressed enough fish for supper, got our potatoes ready and visited until it was time to get supper.
What a supper we ate that night! Those pickerel tasted fine taken from the ice cold water of the lake. We rolled them in meal and fried them. We had baked potatoes, with butter and cream, bread and n ore mince-pie. It is a wonder we didn't have "a spell of indigestion" after such a meal; but we didn't go to bed very early.
In the living room of the cottage there was a fine fire-place and after the supper dishes were put away we fired that up and drew our chairs up to the cheerful blaze and told hunting and fishing stories. A neighbor fisherman dropped in for an hour or two and added a few stories to ours. We finally "turned in" and how we slept that night! I don't think we would have known it if the cottage had slid into the lake. We were up at six o'clock and got our breakfast and were soon out on the lake. It had frozen but very little during the night and we soon had our lines out. It was even warmer than the day before and there was no need of heavy sweaters or mackinaws.
We had taken a few pictures of our outfit and Jack wanted some more; but he said to be sure and save a film for our catch.
He had taken pictures of me in various positions and then I took some of him. We were fairly busy all day running from one hole to another, pulling out a pike or pickerel, and losing some. About the middle of the afternoon they stopped biting and we took up our outfit and stored it in the cottage; then we took account of our fish. We had a fine string, twenty-four in all. The largest was a pickerel that measured twenty-five inches. Jack laid them out on a snow-drift and said for tne to take the picture. I was using my film-pack and got all ready, put in the adapter, after focusing and drew the slide, when I noticed there were paper tabs sticking out.
"Who took the last picture, you or I?" I asked Jack.
"Why, I did," he answered.
"Well, we won't take any more today, T guess, for when you pulled the last black paper out you pulled the safety cover, too."
"Well I will be jiggered," said Jack and he came and saw I was right.
"And I haven't any plates or films at home," he wailed. That ended the pictures, but what we had proved good. I don't know how much those fish weighed; but my share was awful heavy before I got to Jack's house. We dressed what we needed for supper and Jack's wife had a fine supper and after seeing us eat she wanted to know if we ate anything while we were gone.
Just try a day's fishing through the ice and you will be better fitted for your work and the time will slip along a little faster and be nearer the time that you can don your fishing togs and try for that old trout under that log in the brook, you know.
Fur, News. Fur News, January 1916.
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