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Ice fishing for the first time ever (Bloomington, MN)

January 29, 2011

Ice fishing has been on my “To-do-someday” list for years. So today, after living in Minnesota for a total of 18.5 years, I did it! Three fish got away, but I got lots of nibbles and I feel a new addiction coming on.

I figured ice fishing was so popular that I’d have to take a number and stand in line at this free event. (The city of Bloomington, just south of Minneapolis, population 85,000, and the DNR were offering this free fishing activity as part of Winter Fete.) But most folks must have come earlier or been hibernating this fine 30-degree day, so I got to fish for quite a while. It was kinda meditative, like snorkeling or blackberry pickin’–I lost track of time.

At first the tent was crowded and I watched some kids catch fish, which was just as much fun as catching a fish myself.  Then for a while only two of us were fishing and swapping fish stories in the tent. My teen tent partner said ice fish spearing is even more fun because there’s the risk of falling in. Sounds like lots more fun than a video game to me.

Southerners can’t imagine what ice fishing is like here in Minnesota. Some lakes look like odd towns or odd trailer parks in winter with ice houses of all descriptions and pickups and snowmobiles all over the place. Ice houses can be pretty fancy with bunk beds, microwaves and of course, heaters. They are often populated by guys escaping their wives and employees escaping work.

My accommodations were simple today. The DNR had two small tents set up on Bush Lake. “My” tent offered eight fishing holes and a plywood floor. We sat on overturned buckets and fished with two-foot flexible poles. We used flatworms, which are actually round, for bait on tiny hooks. No fishing license was required for this event. The ice was 18 inches thick, almost thick enough to drive a semi on (you need 22 inches for that, somebody said). Part of the time a heater was on. Some hand augering, machine augering and fishing was going on outside, but I was too busy watching my bobber to watch that.

The sweetest fish I’ve ever eaten were some Hubby and Son caught ice fishing once. They were spelled “crappies” but fortunately pronounced “croppies.” We fried them fast and crisp and ate them faster. In fact, I’m craving some crappies right now. I wonder if I could sneak back to the lake before the holes freeze over… use my summer tent or a big cardboard box for cover, tie some line onto a broom stick and… BYE!


Julie M. Evans, a Kentucky native and Bloomington public relations consultant, lived in Minnesota from mid-1983 to mid-1987 the first time and moved back to Minnesota this time in mid-1996. Her blog is

2 Comments leave one →
  1. Greta permalink
    January 29, 2011 1:12 pm

    Yeah the lake we lived near people took their ice huts out on and pushed them over after the hole was augered out. Then they went out with a piece of plywood and skimmed all the snow off the ice on the sun side of the hut. They staked out a place all winter.

    When you lifted the removable floor it was like looking down into a glowing aquarium. There was a little tin wood stove and lawn chairs. The poles were mostly 12″ wooden dowels with a pick stuck out the bottom with a reel and a tiny tooth pick of a flexable stick on the other end. I didn’t go but once because I don’t eat fresh water fish. It was terribly interesting though.

  2. January 31, 2011 12:18 am

    Good for you Julie!!! Not one of my life’s experiences yet. Fishing has never held much appeal to me, but perhaps it has a therapeutic affect just like gardening! 🙂

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