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  Humor stories > Funny stories : How Not to Ice Fish

How Not to Ice Fish

Funny stories Rating : 4.86, 15 votes. Reviews : 0 [add review]
I have to start off by admitting, I’m not from here. I was born and raised in the Chicago suburbs as a bona fide city kid. I met my wife here at Michigan State and became a transplant some ten years ago. I credit her with teaching me not only with how to fire a gun, but also the proper techniques around filleting a fish. I’d like to believe that in my time here I’ve adjusted to and embraced the Michigan way of life. I chose to live here and am proud to raise my children here. I love the pace of life, the people, and the open space. However, some Michigan hobbies just aren’t normal to a born and raised concrete jungle urban dweller.
I never stepped foot, or tire for that matter, on a dirt road until I moved here. I’d never heard of Euchre and never knew that “Up North” was a vacation destination unto itself. Some Michigan traditions startled me – like seeing a dead deer strapped on the hood of a car. I nearly ran off the road gawking at the sight whereas my wife giggled and cooed “OOOOoooo deer season has opened!” Though I suppose it helps to understand that where I’m from the only dead deer you saw on the road involved an insurance claim.
Now other Michigan habits amuse me – like when native Michigan people always point to somewhere on their hand to explain a particular part of the state or city location. I especially love the hand over hand gesture for U.P. cities. There is, however, a very peculiar Michigan tradition that absolutely baffles me, and that tradition is the time honored glory of Michigan ice fishing.
My introduction to ice fishing came during my first winter here, when one of my close work friends “Camo Bob” (affectionately called such because he was the only guy in the office who believed that casual Friday meant it could be camo fashion show day) knew I liked to fish and asked me if I wanted to go ice fishing. I just looked at him and explained, “Bob - If I wanted fish sticks, I’d get them from the freezer”.
His response told me that apparently I was fool for missing out on the greatest natural gift as agreed to between man and God. He talked about the peace of being on a frozen lake, squatting on a bucket next to a hole, and being alone in the silent frozen fortress of nature. He yammered on about ice shanties, never ending walleye, and a circus called “tip up town”. It shouldn’t be hard to envision my disbelief and utter confusion as he explained that people drove their cars and trucks right onto the ice and set camp there in the middle of the lake. I couldn’t believe what he was telling me. I thought for sure he was joking with me, and then he said “Tell you what, meet me at your lake and I’ll take you fishing Michigan style. Remember, dress warm.” So I agreed, and before you knew it City Boy was going ice fishing.
Under normal circumstances I love to go fishing. I like the boats, the floaties, the cooler, the sun screen, the flip flops, tacky Hawaiian shirts, water logged tackle boxes, stale potato chips, live worms, and even the mosquitoes. I like the feeling at the end of the day when your stringer is full, your bonfire is high and you have to move slowly because your skin is just a little over toasted. I learned very quickly that ice fishing involves none of those things. It has a whole subset of “fun” entities all its own.
As I got ready, my wife lined up what I’d need for the day. There were my boots, Carhart overalls, two flannels, my new MSU sweatshirt, gloves, and winter hat – make that my officially licensed NFL Chicago Bears bright orange souvenir NFC Championship winter ski hat. I also had my thermos of coffee, my scarf, and her old snowmobile goggles. I objected and tried not to take them, but as the good husband that I am, I knew when to give in. At least they weren’t pink I told myself. Okay, maybe they were a less than masculine purplish shade – but certainly not pink. I bundled up, grabbed the rest of my gear and stepped outside. That is also the exact moment when I learned how cold Michigan could get. Not Charles Dickens Christmas cold, where the snow falls and the kids go outside sledding with their cocoa. No this was the no-one-goes-outside-for-anything-except-grandma’s medicine kind of cold. When I stepped outside and drew my first breath, my nose and the inside of my eyelids froze. Then, the 210 mph wind hit and I gave up. No way was I doing this, so I turned back to go inside to find my dear bride had already closed (and locked) the door. She apparently left me and headed back upstairs to what I was guessing was our warm comfy bed complete with electric blanket. It was at this point that I really wished I grabbed my keys before I’d put on my nineteen winter layers. Now, I’ll never know if she heard my scarf muffled cries for help or not, but she certainly didn’t answer the door when I banged on it. Left with no choice, I began my trek to the lake.
All I had to do was cross the road, go down a bit and meet Camo Bob at the lake. I lived right next to a small panfish lake and he swore it’d be perfect. Normally the walk takes two, maybe three minutes, but not today. Oh no it took “bundled up boy” a good fifteen minutes to trek across the Siberian tundra that had become our field. When I finally did make it to the lake I saw Bob next to his truck casually getting dressed. I swear to you, it takes a certain blood type to do be able to do that, and trust me - it’s not mine. Bob looked at me and started howling with laughter. He was uncontrollable as he chortled “That just isn’t right. Tell me you’ve got your ice pole tucked in there somewhere?”
No one ever told me that my tried and true Official BASSMaster Pro pole wasn’t an appropriate substitute for an ice fishing pole. Still laughing he leaned over into his truck and handed me this little twig of a thing with an eye hook and a kite spindle. “Here use this, it’ll get you through”. I wouldn’t even have given my 18 month old daughter that twiggy thing to fish with, and here I am a grown man expected to catch my state record pike with this? I thought he was messing with me until he pulled out another one that matched, and I knew he was serious. We were honestly supposed to catch fish with this poor excuse for a switch and baling twine. You’d have thought that would have been the extent of my new ice fishing equipment experience. Until I saw what was next.
He called it an “auger”, but what it looked like to me was a medieval Dr. Death dental drill for giants. This thing was made of one hundred pounds of spiraling railroad iron fashioned down to one very sharp point. He handed it to me, watched me struggle with it and then took it back. “Second thought, let me keep it. It was grandad’s.” Bob said mostly to himself. “Why don’t you just bring the poles?” So I gathered up what I could and out we went.
I like our lake - it’s little and you always catch fish. I was amazed at how quiet everything was. I started to notice the wildlife and foliage that surrounded us, and truly began to appreciate the difference that the seasons brought. I was actually beginning to enjoy myself, and I forgot that I was now on ice, and ice is slippery.
I was looking up and hadn’t quite learned that you need to be looking down because there are things, like branches, that get frozen in the ice. I kind of expected the lake to be flat and smooth, as if the squirrels cleared the ice after every few hours with their little nut powered zambonis. After one false move I tripped and went sprawling across the pond slipping and twisting, and yes sending everything I was carrying in all directions.
Bob looked back at me, and he wasn’t laughing this time. I think he thought I’d died. I landed face first and because I was unusually bundled, and on ice, I couldn’t get myself back to my feet. He pulled me up and through my ever fattening lip I told him “I tripped”. Now he laughed and said, “Yeah um…I caught that”. I learned my lesson though and started to walk again when I realized I couldn’t go on. I had one small problem blocking my path - my morning coffee. It hit me all at once and I had to go to the bathroom with a need that was not to be denied or even delayed. There were no bushes around and I certainly wasn’t going to go in the water. I most certainly couldn’t hold it. I was stuck. I looked at Bob and the look on my face told him all he needed to know. “Forgot to go before you left didn’t ya?” He laughed again, this time with me, as we packed up and headed to shore. We both knew it was over even though it had hardly begun. As he started to drive away in his truck he stopped, rolled down his window and said “Turkey season’s just around the corner, we’ll have some real fun then!”

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