How to catch a zillion fish while ice fishing…NOT!

First you get your ice auger and drill a hole in the ice.

Sorry, you guys.  Didn’t mean to use the “zillion” word.  It was a moment of weakness.

So how many of you have ever gone ice fishing?  Show of hands?  (And did you like your adventure on ice?)

Barry and Mike forge ahead with sleds filled with equipment and bait.

I never ventured out ice fishing until last winter.  You know, you’ll do anything for a blog.  Especially when you have committed to go outside for 365 days in a row and are afraid to run out of adventures.  It was fun!  I even caught a fish.

This year Barry’s been wondering over and over again if I would please go ice fishing on Lake Superior.  I kept putting him off.  Until the day of the zillion hits when he said, “Kathy, you’ll need something big to follow this blog.”  Guess what his definition of “big” might be?  To go ice fishing, of course!

Off we went on Wednesday about noon.

Yooper GPS. This is how Upper Peninsula folks mark their ice holes.

I cannot tell a lie–I was nervous about walking on the ice.  Almost whimpering-nervous for a while.  “It’s cracking, do you hear it?” I whined, quietly, to Barry so his friend Mike wouldn’t overhear.  “We’re going to fall in!”

Barry simply rolled his eyes and kept walking, pulling the sled.  We headed out to 264 feet of water, a half mile out in the bay.  The guys cranked their hand augers around, digging holes in the ice.

The ice measured eight thick inches.  We were probably safe.

Tent City. Lots of other fishermen on the ice.

After the fellas dug the holes, they baited their bobbing sticks.  The Finnish folk around here call them “gabbus” or “gappus”.  They hold 300-400  feet of wire.  You put your sucker bait (or whatever kind of bait you’re using) on your special jig and toss it down the hole.  You lower the bait and wire, unwrapping it, until it hits bottom. Each wrap of wire on the bobbing stick measures two feet.  You count to 132 and you’re at 264 feet deep.  The bottom.

It’s a skill to know when you’re on bottom.  It suddenly feels heavy down there.  My one ice fishing skill so far is that I know when the jig hits bottom.

Hole with bobber.

You pull up a lawn chair or bucket–if it’s a nice day like Wednesday and you don’t need your tent and heater–and move the wire up and down.  That’s called jigging.  You do this ever so slowly.  Everyone has a technique.  Some people say you “feel bottom” and then move up a couple inches.  The lake trout feed near the bottom and they will take one look at your sucker bait and bite hard and you’ll be on your way to catching a zillion fish.

Believe that one?

Barry jigging.

Let’s just say you don’t get a bite instantly.  Let’s just say no hungry trout nibbles.  Let’s say you want to go visiting your neighbor.  That’s when you put a bobber (the yellow ball in the picture above) on your line.  Then you’re allowed to snap a photo or six.

Me squinting into the sun after catching...no, never mind.

Lots of things happen out there on the ice.  People stop by and want to know about your luck.  Are the fish biting?  How many fish you got?  How long you been fishing?

Lots of folks come equipped with four-wheelers and snowmobiles.

Our friend, Nancy, arrived around 3 p.m.  She and I fished together in a tent last winter and had the best time.  Today, with temps in the upper 30’s, very few folks set up tents.

Nancy jigging. What? Does she have a fish?

What do you think?  Does Nancy have a fish?  Will Barry, Kathy and Mike catch trout?  Will we catch a zillion fish?  (No, don’t think the Michigan Department of Natural Resources would approve of that…) Did we fall in Lake Superior?

Stay tuned for tomorrow’s blog.  I know it may be hard to wait for another day–but we have too many photos to fit in one blog.  And too many fish stories.

About Kathy

I live in the middle of the woods in Michigan's Upper Peninsula. Next to Lake Superior's cold shores. I love to blog.
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15 Responses to How to catch a zillion fish while ice fishing…NOT!

  1. Fountainpen says:

    OK! I find it hard to imagine myself going ice fishing anywhere!!!!!! Much less on Lake SUPERIOR!!!!!!! EVEN IF THE ICE IS EIGHT INCHES THICK!!!!!!!!!

    I loved to go fishing with my Uncle before he died….but I never liked hurting the fish!!!!!…It is so complicated…..but glad you did it, I guess! I will turn in tomorrow!

    Fountainpen

    • Kathy says:

      Fountainpen, you want to know a secret? I know exactly what you mean about not wanting to hurt the fish. Last year when I caught my fish I had to croon to it for five minutes “Oh what a sweetheart you are!” The fish did taste good, though. It is complicated… As for being out on the ice, it was the thought of it that was worse than being there. And when you looked around and saw so many other fishermen…you just forgot. Strange.

  2. CRD says:

    Oh the cruel anticipation!

  3. Dawn says:

    Ohhhh Kathy! When I was a kid we lived on an inland lake. We used to sit up in the house and look out over the lake during the winter and wonder why anyone did ice fishing! Often there was a guy sitting on what looked like a bucket already on the lake when we got up in the morning and still there when the sun went down in the evening. Our standing joke was: “He either really loves fishing, or really hates his wife.” I hope you really love fishing! LOL!

    • Kathy says:

      Dawn, here’s another secret. (I don’t really love ice fishing.) Shhh…. My husband asked me to go out again this morning and I said, “Oh! Um! No thanks…I’m looking forward to a whole weekend…” I think he really loves ice fishing. Hopefully he really doesn’t hate me! LOL’ing with you!

  4. Reggie says:

    What an exciting adventure! I cannot imagine walking out on a frozen lake – you brave girl! I’d be a complete wuss, imagining the ice cracking and breaking up below my feet…

    But you all looked like you were having so much fun, that I wouldn’t mind giving it a try someday. 🙂

    I can’t wait for tomorrow’s post – how cruel and thrilling to make us wait! It’s like listening to one of those radio serials that ALWAYS end on a cliff-hanger, just when… Giggle.

    I’ll be back tomorrow!

    • Kathy says:

      Reggie…how to get a zillion hits…write cliff-hangers. NO! I’m not doing it to be mean. Just had too many pictures to put in one day. And couldn’t figure out what to write the second day without leaving you all in anticipation. LOL. Blogging makes me laugh all the time.

      Reggie, if we went ice fishing together we’d probably be wusses together.

      By the way, Barry just finished reading your book. Have you marketed it to little shops all along the way of your weekend adventure? Seems like a lot of the tourist places along the coast of South Africa would like it.

  5. Barbara says:

    I’ve just found your blog and gave it a quick look over as I’m heading outside to do some gardening. I will be back though and have added you to my list of favorite bloggers.
    Your posts have my heart aching as I’m from the T.C. area and miss it greatly. Just last year I had planned to move to Marquette but had to change plans. Oh well, now I’ll visit through your blog!
    Bright Blessings

    • Kathy says:

      Barbara, it is nice to meet you! The Traverse City area is a beautiful place, indeed. My in-laws lived there for about five year (they are in Georgia now.) Sorry you couldn’t move to Marquette. Maybe we might have met. Blessings to you, as well, and hope to see you again.

  6. Cindy Lou says:

    My nephew was up this past week – he and Ricky and others were waaaaaay out on Keweenaw Bay Thursday and Friday….limited out the first day, skunked the second! It always makes my momma-heart a bit nervous when they go out that far, but I have to rely on their good sense and a protective spirit.

    Johnny and my dad (he and my mom are up for the weekend) say that spending the whole day on the ice, or in a boat, is partly for the love of fishing and partly for the love of just being alone in nature. That part of it I can understand and on a day like today (glorious, wondermous, fabulous….55!) I can even see sitting out on the ice.

    Good for you, Kathy, for going again and stepping out onto that ice! Can’t wait to see what you got!

    • Kathy says:

      Cindy, how great that your mom and dad are visiting for the weekend. That must be a wonderful treat for you. That would be a nervous feeling having your baby (sorry, Ricky!) out there so far on the ice. We saw fishermen out there when we went up to Houghton on Thursday. That love of just being out there on the ice, alone in nature, seems to fulfill so many fishermen. Isn’t it a great day? You had 55! I saw 52 on the thermometer. It felt so lovely.

  7. Pingback: Flat fish on the Studland strandline « Jessica’s Nature Blog

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