Now that the MN archery season has come to an end, it’s time for me to settle down and get serious about some ice fishing. It’s been quite a while since I’ve been to the store to check out all the latest jigs, rods and other fancy gadgets, but I needed to upgrade my equipment, so I headed to the local outdoors store to add a few pieces to my arsenal. WOW! To say I was overwhelmed is an understatement.
Who would’ve thought that picking out a few simple jigs would consist of walking through an isle of hundreds, no, probably closer to thousands of different brands and styles and it wasn’t just the kinds of jigs that caught my attention; it was the rods and reels, the augers, the ice skimmers……..so much stuff. So many styles and brands. So many to choose from. How would I know what I needed? How do I know what will work best? I couldn’t believe how much ice fishing equipment had evolved. My mind slipped back to a simpler time growing up and how I learned how to ice fish with my father.
My ice fishing experience comes from many years back as a young girl heading out with my dad. We didn’t have any fancy houses or portables; we had a small 4x6 house built by hand by my father, set on skids for ease of pulling, with a small wood stove to keep us warm during the real cold days. We used a hand auger that my father would cut through the thick ice.
Our rods were made of basic wood with two pegs that you wrapped your fishing line on. We used a simple single hook with a minnow attached and a small bobber to let us know when we had “a bite”. When we were lucky enough to get a bite, we would place our rod on the floor and bring up the line hand over hand until the fish was through the hole.
No fancy electronics to tell us how deep the water was or even if there was a fish near; just simple feel of when the weight would hit the bottom and then remembering how many evolutions of string were let out for the next time you dropped the line. A radio with the local basketball or hockey game would sometimes be heard to pass the time; that was the only electronic device that could be found in our fish house.
Such good memories, but it was time for me to focus and pick some things out. I continued to scan over all the different products, but just couldn’t decide. There was too much. I headed home and called a few friends to express my frustration and need of help. Luckily they were all understanding and gave me some great suggestions.
So I headed back to the store the next day, determined, for round two. I picked out a light weight rod, a reel and line for panfish. I found a few different styles of individual jigs and plastics and also a couple package deals with all sorts of goodies to try. It didn’t seem like much, but I needed to start somewhere.
If you’re just getting back to ice fishing or want to give it a try, try not to feel overwhelmed with all that’s out there and where to begin. Ask for help and ask questions. There are a lot of good people and a lot of great resources out there that are willing to help.
So I think I’m ready. Ready to evolve. Ready to learn. Ready to catch fish. Ready to have fun and make new memories in our ice fishing shack.