Freezing for Fish: Ice Fishing for Trout

Ice Fishing for TroutArticle Contributed by Field Staff Writer E. Beesley.

I grew up fishing, but I only went ice fishing one time. I was a typical 14 year old that enjoyed the outdoors. My dad invited me to go with him and a few other people from my neighborhood. I was excited but a little skeptical. I loved fishing, I just really didn’t like being cold. I thought I dressed for the occasion, wearing a couple layers and a coat. As we walked out onto the ice I realized I wasn’t prepared. Within seconds of stepping outside I became chilled. The wind was howling, dropping the already freezing temperature. It took my breath away.

We didn’t have a tent, a hut or a chair, we had a bucket and a fishing pole. My dad drilled the holes in the ice, gave me some bait, and showed me how to lower it into the hole. I sat on the bucket, my body shivering from the cold. I waited, and waited, understanding there was a possibility I might freeze to the bucket. I stood up for a second to stretch my legs, and to get some blood moving. As I stood up, my bucket went flying, the wind whipping it up into the air. I dropped my pole and chased after it. This was an important bucket after all. I eventually recovered it and resumed my patient waiting.

I was freezing. I realized as I sat there that I didn’t really want to catch a fish. There was no way I was taking off my gloves to release a fish or to re bait my hook. My fingers were numb as it was. I knew in that moment that ice fishing wasn’t for me. After another 30 minutes or so of freezing my tail off, I made a decision. The fishing was slow, the wind was bitterly cold, and frankly I was bored. I stood up, told my dad I was freezing, and I spent the rest of the morning in the truck. I thought that was the best decision I had made all day. I was warm, I had snacks, and I wasn’t at risk of losing my extremities.

That was my last ice fishing experience until a couple months ago. My brother-in-law was planning a trip the day after Thanksgiving. He was nice enough to invite us and offered to let us use his gear. I decided to try again. This time I would have a better attitude, more sense of adventure, and I was going to be prepared.

I knew it would be cold, so I wore leggings, sweat pants, and snow pants. I wore two pairs of socks, two gloves, hand warmers, and foot warmers. I had on a long sleeve shirt, a pullover, a hoodie, and a big warm coat. I was going to give it a valiant effort this time, and I wasn’t going to spend the day in the truck! I was excited and optimistic. I had heard great tales of successful ice fishing trips, and it couldn’t be as bad as my first experience.

We reached the lake and brought out the snacks and fishing gear. There was a group of about six of us, so we had to drill a lot of holes. Once the holes were drilled, we rigged the rods and dropped each one into a hole. The waiting began, but already this time was different. It was cold, really cold. It was about eight to ten degrees when we began, but the only thing that felt cold was my face, but otherwise I was pretty comfortable. My attitude was different this time as well. I was going to have fun whether we caught fish or not. The company was great and the waiting wasn’t so bad. We were laughing, sliding on the ice, dancing, snacking, and having a great time.

Ice Fishing for TroutBefore long my nephew had a fish on. He pulled up a nineteen inch beautiful cutthroat. Everyone’s excitement grew! There are big fish in this lake and we couldn’t wait to see what the day would bring. A little while later my nephew had another one on. Once again he pulled up a cutthroat just as pretty as the first one. Shortly after that my husband had one on, and a bit later he pulled in a huge, gorgeous brook trout! I was so happy for him, but a little jealous as well. I started to get a little antsy. I had never reeled in a big fish through a hole in the ice like that and I really wanted the chance to do so.

I took my pole to a new hole, re rigged my bait, dropped it in and waited. I jigged it a little bit and Bam! Fish on! I was so excited! I reeled and reeled and pulled up a nice, not so big cutthroat. He was smaller than the rest that had been caught, but I was still pretty happy. My first trout through the ice!

Ice Fishing for TroutI caught another cutthroat, and this one was big and it was a beauty. It had the reddest, rosiest cheeks. A bit later we were thinking of heading out. Everyone was getting pretty cold. I decided to clean the ice out of each hole one more time. As I was cleaning the ice out of the last hole, I saw the pole bounce. I thought maybe I had bumped it, but then it bounced again. I slid down to my knees and set the hook. My heart started racing! I could tell this was a big fish. As I reeled in, I could see the fish, it was a brook trout! I love catching brook trout. They are gorgeous fish with really unique markings, and I’ve caught very few in my lifetime. Rarely do you get a chance to catch one over eighteen inches.

My hands are shaking as I’m reeling in. My adrenaline is pumping, I can’t lose this fish! I’m yelling and trying to figure out how to get him through that hole. I keep reeling and there she is! I pull up on the pole and her head breaks through the water. I reach down and pull her up through the hole in the ice. I was so ecstatic! This was a beautiful trout, and she was big! We quickly measured her, she was just shy of twenty four inches, and she was thick. The markings and colors were amazing. Greens, blues, and even some pink. This was absolutely the coolest brook trout I had ever caught.

That was the last fish of the day. We cleaned up and headed home. We were cold and tired but we left with some great memories. This ice fishing trip was very different then my first time. I learned from that experience that life is an adventure, and it’s all about what you make of it. Get out, explore, create memories, and try something new. Some adventures will be amazing, others might be trying, but they will all be memorable. It also helps to be prepared and to have a good attitude. I’m so glad that I tried something new, and then tried it again.

Read More Ice Fishing Adventures!
Ice Fishing Alaska’s Interior
First of the Year: Fly Fishing the Ice Out in Wyoming

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