I had arranged an ice fishing trip with, Black Hills Works, for a couple of guys and their supervisor to meet me up on Deerfield Reservoir for a day of fun on the ice last week.
Black Hills Works is a community organization that provides special needs people in the area with opportunities to work, live and thrive through assistance programs and job training. It is a very special organization that I have enjoyed working with and it allows me to take a few of its members out each winter and summer for some fishing, something that they don't necessarily have the opportunity to do.
The trips are always special, the laughs and smiles that have occurred during these trips are always something I remember most of all. This new trip was no exception.
Coming out for their first ever ice fishing trip, Jeff and Hoksila, arrived at the lake with their supervisor Shane and I could tell they were excited, especially Hoksila, as he was moving out to get to our set-up pretty quick.
While it was pretty pleasant on the ice, I had put up my Clam XL2000 hub and started the heater in advance of their arrival as I wanted to make sure that they would have some place warm to fish in.
The Vexilars were turned on and the rods were ready for them when they got there. After getting them into place in the hub, I showed them how to read their Vexilar screens and how to tell the bottom from fish, as well as some basic jigging actions. They ran with it from there.
Soon they were catching perch and rainbow trout with little need for instruction or help from me. Watching the excitement on their faces while reeling in the fish and then seeing the smiles that came afterwards was best reward of all.
We chatted about past fishing trips and ways to cook the fish if we had kept any. Jeff was especially interested in eating some in the future. Hoksila liked to tell about the different fish he'd caught when he was younger.
It was just fun to see them having a good time until the bite dried up. We simply moved the hub to another spot about 20 yards away where I'd seen more fish earlier. The new spot turned out to be a hot one, as the flasher screens looked like Christmas trees with the fish stacked up and hungry.
Jeff and Hoksila reeled up a lot of fish in a short amount of time before it was time for a quick lunch and a few more minutes of the fishing before it was time to go. Hoksila though wanted to try the Conversion auger out before he left and I showed him how to use it and he was off drilling some holes of his own in no time.
We even had a couple of bald eagles land near us looking for a meal. We provided them with a couple of perch which they happily grabbed off the ice after I'd tossed them nearby. The guys thought that it was pretty awesome to see them so close to us.
As we packed up and the guys left, I took a minute to reflect on the morning. Helping these great guys to experience the joy of ice fishing was a great feeling, even better that they were able to catch a bunch of fish and stay warm in the process.
It is a blessing to be able to help out the wonderful people from Black Hills Works and it is something that I will continue to do in the future as long as I am able to.
Never take anything for granted and if you ever have a chance to take out anyone, no matter their abilities, be sure you do. It will be one of the most heartwarming and rewarding days that you will ever spend on the water.