By Starrla Cray
HOWARD LAKE, MN John “Chub” Horsch, Myron Lahr, Troy Sjaaheim, and Jarrin Vogel are a few of the many sportsmen with a fishhouse on Howard Lake this year.
The ice is about 20 inches thick, and people are driving vehicles on the lake.
“I’d say our ice conditions are quite favorable,” said Vogel, who moved to Howard Lake last February.
Vogel was the first to have a fishhouse on Howard Lake this year. He caught a walleye the first day, but hasn’t had very good luck since then.
“It’s been slow this year,” Sjaaheim said. “We can’t even catch a northern around here.”
Horsch said he caught one northern a few weeks ago, but most of what he’s seen is perch.
“I got eight perch last night,” Sjaaheim said.
Despite slow catching, ice fishing enthusiasts are still enjoying their time on the lake.
Sjaaheim and Vogel said they listen to the radio and watch movies on a portable DVD player.
“We used to be able to watch football games out here, before the switch to digital TV,” Sjaaheim said.
One fisherman on Howard Lake even has a satellite dish hooked up to his fishhouse, Sjaaheim said.
Some people think ice fishing is cold, but according to Sjaaheim, “if you’re cold, you’re not doing it right.”
With a little portable heater, the fishhouse gets plenty warm, Vogel said.
“We wear T-shirts in here,” he said.
Sjaaheim, who has a lifetime angler license, likes to fish every year.
The heavy snow in late December caused many people to pull their houses to shore, Horsch said. The weight of the snow pushes the houses down, and water comes up underneath. If that happens, the houses can get frozen in, he explained.
Lahr is one fisherman who had to pull his house to shore. He purchased a new 12-foot fishhouse last month, but hasn’t been able to use it as much as he’d like.
“He saves up his vacation time every year to go spearfishing,” his wife, Lucy, said. Lahr caught two northerns when he went out in December, but the snow has been keeping him off the lake recently.
Lahr has been spearfishing since 1966.
“There aren’t many people left who do that,” said Horsch, another long-time spearfisher.
“When I was a kid, my dad and uncles had fishhouses on the north end of Howard Lake,” said Horsch, who graduated from Howard Lake High School in 1957.
Now, many people have large fishhouses, but Horsch has stuck to a smaller one.
“Fifty, 60 years ago, there were a lot of little houses out here,” Horsch said. “Back in those days, they were all small ones.”
Horsch lives less than a mile away from his fishhouse, and he goes out every day to clear the ice from his spearfishing hole. Each day, the water freezes to form about an inch of ice.
“I missed a day over New Year’s because I went skiing, and there was over 3 inches,” he said.