The sun was out, it was cold and windy, and I couldn’t have had a better time.
The final Saturday in December was the day that I finally made it out onto a frozen lake in Minnesota to do something that I enjoy every year ice fishing.
Not since I was in high school have I ice fished more than a couple of times per season.
A few of those years it was because of the poor weather for ice fishing, but more times than not it was just due to lack of time and opportunity.
In the overall scheme of things, I won’t be doing much fishing again this year until I finally get my own fish shanty, or a certain uncle of mine gets one that I can use.
Never-the-less, a friend of mine has one out on Lake Mary just north of Winsted, and last year I used it once.
This year, that same friend allowed me to use it Dec. 27, and I took full advantage.
Jody and I headed out just after lunch, and had our lines in the water by 3:30 p.m.
The action was slow to start with, but that didn’t mater.
With the radio on, and a cold beverage in our hands, we sat back, relaxed, and enjoyed some very peaceful time on the ice.
The only break we had from the silence was the cracking of the ice, which, after about an hour, was nothing more than a little background noise to us.
Then, at about 4:30 p.m., the first cork went down and under the ice.
As I jumped to my feet and started pulling up my line, I won the epic struggle with a quarter-pound perch.
First fish of the season and it was a beauty!
OK, it was pretty small, but would have been big enough to keep if I had planned on catching a bucket full.
But since that wasn’t in my plans, I released it back into the depths, hoping that by this time next year, it might have grown to a half-pound fish.
As I mocked Jody since I had already caught one, while she was still skunked, her line went down, and caught what could have been an identical twin of the perch I just caught before.
Then Jody quickly caught another perch to move ahead of me 2-1, but that is when she put her plan into motion.
Sure enough, Jody found a way to tangle up her line, and I mean something fierce.
Great, I thought to myself, this is just what I love to do while fishing, untangle line.
Then, as if the fish were in cahoots with Jody, as soon as I was fully entangled with the tangled line, the fish started biting right and left, leaving Jody as the only one to pull up fish.
By the time I had fixed her line and got back to fishing, Jody had brought up about five more perch, to take a commanding lead on me.
Nice plan Jody, but next time you will be untangling your own line.
That is when we welcomed a few friends out on the lake.
My cousin, Brad Stuedemann, along with his sons, Dylan and Jake, and daughter Hannah, made their way from Glencoe to join us.
Also coming out was Brian “Woody” Langenfeld and the big outdoorsmen, and my uncle, Chris Schultz.
After shooting the breeze for a while, Woody headed out, while Brad and his boys set up a pair of portables.
During this time, Hannah stayed in the house with Jody and I.
A short time later, we had another run of a few perch, along with our first walleye of the day.
In total, Jody and I caught a total of five walleye, but none of them were bigger than the rather small perch we were nabbing.
It was still a blast, and Hannah, a fourth grader at Glencoe-Silver Lake and my second-cousin, turned out to be one heck of a fisherwomen.
Hannah jumped at the chance to take our fish off the hooks, and was the first one to put her hand in the minnow bucket to get us bait.
Once the run came to an end, I left Hannah and Jody to meander out and check with Chris, Brad, and his boys in the portables.
First, I stopped at the boys’ house, and they weren’t having any luck. However, they were cooking up some hotdogs, a standard meal out on the lake.
From there, I stepped into Brad’s house, where he and Chris were shooting the breeze.
They had just one perch, but Chris said he had caught several crappies and some other stuff earlier in the day on a different part of the lake.
Sure you did, Chris. I’ll believe it when I see it.
Anyways, once I stepped into their portable, I quickly smelled smoke.
Looking down, I noticed that it was me that was smoking as I was standing a little too close to the heater.
Luckily, I noticed it fast enough to avoid starting my pants on fire.
After talking with Brad and Chris for a while, I headed back, trading places with Hannah, who then went to do some fishing with her dad.
After Jody and I each caught one more small walleye, we decided it was time to head home.
Total tally was 10 perch and five walleye on this day. Not a bad day, even though none of them were really worth keeping.
Overall, it was a great time, and I really hope I get back out on the lake a bunch more times this winter.