Guidelines: Ice Advice

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By Simon Ambit

We have had a bit of a unique winter in what I term to be this “extended fall.” With the few inches of snow we received this past week, it finally feels like winter. The temperatures seem to finally be dropping a bit and more of the lakes throughout southeastern Utah are freezing to a thickness safe for ice fishing. With this being the case, it puts fishing back on the agenda for me and my crew of youngsters.

Ice fishing has been a bit of a journey for me. I recall my first ice fishing trip as a young boy. My parents and I drove to Scofield Reservoir to try our luck. I was too young to know for sure, but I can only assume that my dad didn’t own an ice auger. I say this because he used a heavy metal post-hole digging bar to chisel a small hole in the ice. And when I say a small hole, I mean it was just large enough to fit the digging bar through it! I remember that part clearly. Dad was smacking away at the ice as fragments of sparkling crystals danced to the percussion of each downward stroke. Then, in one fluid motion, the bar broke through the ice, slipped from dad’s grip and plunged straight to the bottom of the lake! He simply wiped his gloves against his pants, looked over to me and said “Well, that didn’t turn out the way I planned.” We laughed about it on the way back to shore.

As the morning breeze gained more confidence, the temperature lowered. Dad built a small fire for mom and I on the shoreline while he went out the finish the fishing holes with a small axe. Once the holes were ready, I went out to fish on the ice next to my dad. It didn’t take long for the ice to begin to groan with those echoing cracks that take place with nearly every temperature change of the day. To a young first timer, this was pretty intimidating. The growling of the ice and the frigid temperature caused me to formulate what I considered at the time to be an ingenious plan.

I wasn’t ready to be done fishing, but I wasn’t keen on the idea of joining the digging bar on the lake floor either. So, I left my bait dangling in the hole next to dad and then strung the line out across the ice to where I had relocated my chair near the fire onshore next to my mom.

Needless to say, I didn’t catch a single fish that day, nor in several subsequent visits since. I have learned a little about ice fishing since then, including the importance of staying on the ice! Hahahahaha. I think my young sons are already better than I ever was. The last time we went out, they had times when they were pulling fish through the ice two at a time! Ice fishing has become something that although we are far from good at, my family and I enjoy creating memories and fish stories doing together.

Creating memories with family is just that way sometimes, isn’t it? On some occasions, you are lucky enough to be reelin’ ‘em in two at a time, and then you turn around and on the next go round you accidentally plunge your digging bar to the bottom of the lake. Either way, enjoy the times, enjoy the memories. Life is good, laugh openly and fish often!

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