The perils of taking risks while ice fishing

I just heard on the radio the other day that all of the ice fishing huts need to be removed from the lakes.

By Jonah Kondro

I just heard on the radio the other day that all of the ice fishing huts need to be removed from the lakes. The request is coming in earlier than normal due to a fast approaching spring. It gets pretty scary fishing when the ice integrity is questionable. All it takes is a hefty crack and the next sound you’ll hear is a splosh.

No reasonable amount of red and white fishing bobbers can act as personal flotation device. I speak from my own experience. I’ve done a fair bit of ice fishing on Gull Lake, Medicine Lake and Sylvan Lake, but I’ve only iced fished on Open Creek once. I tend to only fish that body of water in the summer these days.

I have a good friend, Dusty Rhodes (the name you read isn’t a pseudonym). He will fish anywhere where he can get a line in. Dusty and I have done a lot of fishing together. The problem with fishing with Dusty is that when there isn’t much biting, he gets bored and wants to try somewhere else. During one of our winter ice fishing excursions, Dusty convinced me to head out to Open Creek; it’s someplace close that neither one of us has ice fished ever.

The thing about Open Creek is it has a spring running into the lake on one side. Where the spring runs in no ice seems to form. This is perfect when a couple of ice fishing buddies are too lazy to unpack the auger and carry it from the truck down to the ice surface.

We kept a considerable distance from the open water near the spring and threw our lines in. It was brilliant. We caught fish after fish. The fish were only suckers and they weren’t much to brag about. Regardless though, Dusty and I were catching fish and enjoying ourselves. Our confidence grew and we slowly begun to advance to the open water where the spring ran in.

While Dusty was pulling up another catch, the ice cracked where I was standing. I fell in. My winter boots, heavy socks, long johns, pants, undershirt, long sleeve shirt, sweater, jacket, mitts, and toque absorbed a whole lot of ice cold winter water. Thankfully Dusty was quick to react — when I resurfaced, he managed to pull up out of the water.

I ran to the truck while simultaneously removing all my soaked clothing. I hopped into the passenger seat nearly naked. Dusty started up the truck and got the heat going. He said I looked and sounded like a seal when I sprang up out of the water. It’s miraculous that I never got hypothermia, though a couple days later I caught a cough and had to abstain from ice fishing with Dusty for a weekend or two.

I tend to be a little more cognizant of the ice when I’m out fishing these days. When I heard on the radio that the ice fishing shacks need to be removed earlier this year, I simply nodded and thought about how wet and cold falling through the ice at Open Creek was.