Today on the show Gary explores the world of ice fishing. It’s a popular winter pastime. We’ll meet some of the people who just love spending a day sitting in a makeshift hut on a frozen lake or river, dropping a line through a hole they make in the ice. Here’s an account of Gary’s ice fishing adventure:
I was on my way to Gagetown when I saw the fishing huts on the river at Public Landing. There must be about 15 of them, in two clumps on the ice not far from the wharf. This is where the smelt are and every winter a small village of wood and plastic shelters sprout up on the ice. I pulled the car over and walked down the bank and onto the frozen river to investigate. I wanted to find out what the appeal is of sitting in a tiny, makeshift shelter for hours on end, staring at a hole cut in the ice.
The first hut I came to was occupied by two men from Burton. Gerry Moore and Errol Kennedy have been coming here for years. It’s a long drive downriver from Burton but Errol says this is the closest place to catch smelt. They were doing a good job of it while I was there. One after the other they were pulling the small fish out of the round hole drilled in the ice. They had about 35 fish between them and Gerry said it was an average day of fishing. Thy were using shrimp for bait and the only complaint I heard was over the bait costing more than the smelt.
Next door in another hut I found Bill King, also of Burton, staring down at his line. The story was much different here. Even though the two huts were only separated by a few meters, there were few smelt to be caught here. King had been sitting for about an hour and didn’t have a fish to show for it. He told me that’s the way ice fishing is. You can have two holes side by side and pull fish out of one and not the other. He said it depends on the depth of the water at that location and the current. The tide was going out and he said fishing is better on the incoming tide.
Ron Pilgrim also of Burton wasn’t having much luck in his shack either. He told me he fished for two hours last Sunday and pulled out 61 smelt but after an hour today all he had was two fish. He said the current could be steering the fish around his hole. He didn’t seem to mind though. Pilgrim said he just liked getting out of the house and fishing. He said he’s an avid angler but the odd thing is he doesn’t like eating fish all that much, or maybe just smelt. He told me he gives away most the fish he catches. Just as I was leaving he pulled out the biggest smelt I’d seen so far that day. It had to be about a foot long.
In the last hut I visited I discovered two ice anglers who also don’t really care if they catch fish or not. Neil Lingley of Grand Bay-Westfield and Greg Shannon of Hoyt just like being there. Shannon said it’s peaceful and quiet sitting in the hut and the sun keeps it nice and warm. Lingley told me he enjoys watching the bald eagle that hangs around on the ice waiting to grab any fish that might come his way. He said they talk about everything when they fish and by the end of the day, they’ve solved most of the world’s problems.
With that I walked back to the car with a better understanding of what the attraction is for ice fishing. I’d enjoy the camaraderie and the fishing, especially if we caught a few. But when it comes to the eating, like Ron Pilgrim, I think I’d be giving most of my smelt away.
Also on the show, more of your comments about the program, favorite adventure books and outdoor adventures of your own. Podsafe music this week from Bill Kahler of Atlanta, Georgia. Email the show at firstname.lastname@example.org