Ice fishermen hope for ice

Hardwater anglers were able to ply their trade earlier this winter but now anglers prepare for open water fishing. Photo by author

We have all heard more than our fair share of fish stories, where the truth may be slightly exaggerated to make the story more exciting. But one of the biggest myths is that good fishing stops during our winter months. Nothing could be farther from the truth.

The majority of people consider fishing a warm weather pastime. But believe it or not there are those whose lives revolve around the simple pleasure of ice fishing. Although this might not sound like fun to those who prefer the comforts of being indoors during our coldest season, others love it. But this winter has come at a price for the avid ice angler.

For a brief period last month we were blessed with enough hard water to make venturing out on area lakes a realistic proposition. It was heralded by throngs of Hoosier hardwater anglers. Those initial outings, to some degree, were like being reacquainted with an old friend. During earlier trips a small group of us pulled bluegills and crappies from holes we augured like it was our job. But that has changed due to January’s warm weather which made this activity far too dangerous.

It was only a week back several friends travelled to the northern Kosciusko County in hopes of finding a safely frozen lake. It was a feeble attempt and maybe some wishful thinking. Upon arrival we were joined by a few other hopeful anglers from Rochester and Plymouth. Standing on shore we dejectedly looked across fast melting ice and open expanses of water near the lake’s center.

“Looks like this isn’t happening,” said one guy, already dressed in an Ice Armor ice fishing suit. “This blows,” said another guy as he turned to head back to his truck after surveying the lake, while a third wiped away tears. Although the tears were fake, his depressed attitude wasn’t. Some winters we are fortunate to have safe ice fishing opportunities for months. This year isn’t one of them, although some remain hopeful as the week’s progress.

Why do some prefer ice fishing over any other outdoor activity? There are several reasons. To an angler, it’s preposterous to consider lasting the winter months without feeling a tug on the end of your line. And if you like eating fish, nothing beats freshly caught panfish hoisted from icy cold waters.

Ice fishing, unlike other consumptive outdoor activities can be social in nature. Groups can come together on a frozen body of water and when the catching turns slow it can be time to swap stories about anything imaginable. All of our country’s problems are usually solved in a few short hours while standing on the ice crouched over small holes.

So is ice fishing over for this year? This is anyone’s guess but it is Indiana. Regardless of how bad you may want to be on the ice there are two things to remember. First, there are bold ice fishermen and there are old ice fishermen, but there are no bold, old ice fishermen.

Secondly, the only ice that is completely safe is in your glass. And even that may depend on what you pour over it.

Regardless of what old man winter has in store for us, the best advice is to take it all in stride and be thankful for each sunrise. But getting an early start on open water fishing, where we can make long casts and cover vast expanses of water isn’t such a bad thing either.

John Martino
Martino is a well-known outdoor writer throughout Indiana and has served as longtime outdoor columnist for the Kokomo Tribune newspaper. Martino has won numerous awards for both his writing and his service to youth, conservation and the community. He recently retired as Superintendent of Parks and Recreation for the City of Kokomo and now works as Ivy Tech Executive Director for Facilities for the Kokomo region.


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