Ice fishing

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Remember the good ol’ days when being an outdoorsman meant you went outside to capture and eat animals?


What you’ll need is a freshwater fishing license, an ice-fishing rod, a big fat bucket and your regular camping stuff. Info about fishing licences can be found here:

Ice-fishing rods are a super-short, super-cheap one-piece plastic numbers. It’s a lot cheaper than anything else you’ll buy for going outside. The shanty rod is $3.99, and it's all you need. The website linked here is a pain in the ass, in that it works if you've already looked at it, but doesn't if you haven't, probably due to some cookie problem. If you put 'shanty rod' into the search box at the upper right corner, though, it will appear.


The procedure is as follows: You go out onto the lake and start turning the auger until you break through the ice, which will take a lot more effort than you’d hope. After breaking through, you discover that your hole is completely filled with ice chips and snow. After giving up the idea of spooning all that junk out, you plunge your auger down, and yank it our a couple times, moving most of the ice in your hole onto the ice surface, which makes you happy, and also moves much of the water in the lake into your boots, which makes you not so happy. If you’ve got an ice-fishing scoop, or brought a pasta spoon, or something, you can comfortably clean out the rest of the junk in your hole. If not, you’re hands are about to be colder than your feet. Now you’ve got a good ice-fishing hole.

Next, you dump all your crap out of your bucket, turn it upside down and sit on it. You then pull a grub out of your pocket (that’s where they live, so they don’t freeze) and put it on your lure, drop it down your hole, lower it to the bottom, and then raise it six inches off. At this point you try to wiggle your rod in a manner that the fish will find alluring. You know that the fish are out there, and that they’re biting, because some old guy whose nose touches his chin is pulling them up left and right with the same lure that you have, but the only thing that you’re getting is a bucket frozen to your ass. Periodically, you notice that your hole is freezing over again, and get to move around and warm your legs and freeze your hands while digging more ice out of your hole. It’s unclear if this makes you warmer or colder.

Then, after two days of incubating your bucket, you finally feel the tug of a fish at the end of your rod. After a couple seconds of wild excitement, you pull the fish out, and quickly kill it so that you don’t need to feel guilty watching it flop around.

People who haven’t fished before may still feel guilty.

You’ve now got a taste for blood, and fish even harder, but get nothing. It’s time to go back. You throw your junk and your fish in your bucket, which you’re pretty glad you have, because it would have sucked even more to be standing, or sitting on the ice, and you certainly don’t want to carry a fish in your backpack.

Back at camp, you get to clean your fish. If you haven’t done this before, you end up with a mush of scales, bits of bones, and some actual fillet. It’s by all accounts a disaster, but after two days of desperately trying to catch the fish, it’s now the tastiest thing that you’ve ever had the pleasure of rolling around in your mouth as you pick the bones out.

Life’s never been better.