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STORIES FROM THE 44TH PARALLEL

Freelance Writer & Photographer in Michigan

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  • Marianne Kuzimski

A Walk On The Moon

I am so excited about ice fishing this year! After watching all the fishing action right from our living room last season, we decided a bit late to join in the fun.

When going fishing, you will need something to fish with. You can try a jigging pole or tip-ups, but we use both with minnows in hopes of catching some big fish. You also need a way to cut a hole into the ice, but take it from me you don’t want to spud the hole by hand unless the ice is really thin because it takes forever!


I spudded a hole once when I was young and it took me about 20 minutes to open up a two-inch-diameter hole through some really thick ice. When I finally broke through, there was only a few inches of water between the ice and the sand. Like I would catch a fish there, right?!


Determined to experience ice fishing, I walked out another 200 yards and spudded another hole about the same size. This time there was about 8 inches of water in which to fish, so I gave up.


With that bit of information, I’m sure you can understand how important an ice auger is. So we bought an electric ice auger that quietly drills a hole, lickety-split, with no obnoxious fumes or chainsaw noise. And since it’s imperative to know just how deep you are fishing, or if there are any fish in your spot, we also got a handy little depth/fish finder.


This pocket-sized gadget looks kind of like a handheld television with a long, weighted wire. It has a reel for the wire so you can wind it in back up after checking things out down below. It also has a little sonar in the weight to check for moving anomalies in your vicinity.

We also stocked up on a bunch of new-fangled tip-ups with big, orange tops that prevent your holes from freezing up, and some shiny, jigging lures in hopes of catching some delicious, walleye!


To keep warm, we bought a clamshell style fishing shanty. It’s a tent built on top of a boat that you flip open and closed like a clam. It can be used to haul all of your fishing paraphernalia when it’s closed.

Being made of a heavy plastic, it slides easily across the ice when pulling it on foot, or hook it up to a quad or snowmobile to reach your destination quickly.


Opened, it’s a tent about twice the width of the boat over top of a bench that seats two people, and it’s amazing how warm it gets inside when you fire up a portable, gas heater! On windy days when you have to anchor the tent sides down into the ice, you can still keep an eye on your tip-ups by peeking out the windows, and use the zippered door to get in and out.

No matter how excited I am about ice fishing, I am not a diehard.


You know the ones… they go out ice fishing when there’s only 100 yards of shore ice an inch thick while it’s a balmy 50 degrees outside.


Yep… they have to be crazy!

Being there was a section of about 15-20 feet wide thawed out in front of our house just four days ago, it was a bit of a shock to see so many quads burning out to the middle of Houghton Lake this morning to try their luck.


Honestly, I cannot tell you how much ice is out there right now with all the thawing and freezing that’s been going on, but the group of fishermen trucking their way out on the ice this morning are just the kind of diehards I’m talking about.


Aside from those who live dangerously, I have to admit that ice fishing is such a cool experience. If you like fishing but have never tried ICE fishing, I implore you… give it a go. And if you don’t like fishing, but you enjoy an EXPERIENCE… you might just find this sport a lot of fun!


You see, it’s not just about catching fish. It’s the ambiance.


Even though you can see the shoreline from where you’re at, it feels like you’re in another world.


The crunch of the ice under your boots echoes across the frozen surface of the lake making you feel as if you are making too much noise.


The wind sounds different, howling across the icy surface of the lake. It makes you think you are in a dessert wasteland, or like a friend used to say… on the surface of the moon. But the sound of the lake making ice will set even the finest hairs on your arms standing up on end!


When you hear an echoing crack rushing toward your feet, closer and closer… and closer still, you’ll freeze in your tracks watching the ice around you, waiting for a huge fissure to open up Right… Where… You... Stand!


Oftentimes, it’s not until you drill a hole in the ice to check its depth that you can really relax and feel safe.


After you’ve picked your spot, set out all of your tip-ups, and gotten settled at a jigging hole, the quiet on the lake is so tranquil you’re compelled to whisper. That is… until a flag pops up signaling you’ve caught a fish on a tip-up.


Then it’s game on!


The sound of crunching boots running across ice is so exciting it doesn’t even have to be your own boots to get your heart pumping. But if it is your boots making all the racket, you’ll be trying to get to the flag as fast as you can to set the hook before that fish gets off. That means trying to keep yourself upright and not fall flat on your ass halfway there.


Setting the hook and pulling up the line is like digging for treasure. You don't know what's on the other end until you see the flash of silver coming up the ice hole. And have yourself a heart-attack if the fish is too big to fit through the hole!


Yes indeed, ice fishing can be quite exhilarating!


According to the guru’s… the best time for fishing is just before sunrise or just after sunset. We tend to go in the afternoon in hopes of catching supper.


If the sun is out or the winds are calm, we sit outside of the coop and enjoy the view and the quiet. If it’s windy, we take cover inside of the coop peeking out the windows every once in a while to check for tip-up flags while jigging inside next to the heater.

Standing on the surface of this huge, frozen lake is like standing at the base of a majestic mountain... the feeling of awe is indescribable.


On it, the setting sun looks unlike any other sunset you’ve seen.


But when the winds kick up a fuss, you'll thank God you have your GPS or a compass to find your way home when you can't see 5-feet in front of your face!


BUT THE MOON is just… WOW!

A full moon rising above the icy surface of the largest inland lake in Michigan is unbelievably beautiful. It’s as if the moon rays will absorb you into its glow and take you with them into the heavens. It will absolutely take your breath away when the moon appears so close to the earth’s surface… as if you could almost reach out and touch it.


Though I’ve tried to capture these experiences with photographs, I believe it’s best if you experience it for yourself.


So tell me... have you ever been ice fishing?


Give me a shout if you would like to go. It’s always more fun with friends!






Thanks so much for reading!


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