Sunday, January 19, 2014

The first trip onto the ice ~ What a fun weekend!

We finally made it out onto the ice!  After a very cold month and a half, we were able to get our fishing house onto Lake Mille Lacs.  It was a strange year for the ice, even though the temperatures had been low, there was a layer of snow on top of the ice that was insulating it from getting thick enough to safely support the houses.

My father-in-law and a few others went up early to have our house moved for us.

Being my first time out on the lake in its frozen state, I was understandably anxious.  I did feel comfortable after a few minutes, but it was definitely out of my comfort zone.  Jon said since there was snow covering the ice, it would feel like driving on land, and he was right.

Before, during and after the ride to the fish house

When we got to the cabin, it was time to get fishing!  Jon, my Dad, and  Jon's cousin Kevin each took a turn setting up fishing line and drilling a hole into the ice.  Then we got the lines measured, baited and dropped...and we laughed, we laughed a lot this weekend.

My Dad, Bruce, setting up an ice reel
Jon drilling the first hole of the season

We didn't get a single bite that first night.  The next morning, Jon and Kevin set up the dish, which went miraculously well, and the Television was up and running.  I spent much of the morning and afternoon reading a book (such a rare thing with a five year old!), before going into town with my Dad to show him around. 

When we returned, we had supper, and then things got interesting!  Inside each ice reel, is a jingle-bell, which makes noise when a fish is on the line.  We were sitting around watching TV and talking, when we heard the first jingle of a bell.  We missed that one, but shortly afterwards, my Dad pulled up a 12" walleye.

First fish of the season ~ 12" walleye

Right away, we heard another jingle, but this is the one that got away.  It seems that there's always at least one every weekend.  Jon set the hook, then pulled the fish up to the surface of the water, and just about had it out of the lake when it wiggled off the hook.  He was mighty disappointed!  Soon enough though, he made up for it with a 14" walleye out of the same hole.  In fact, it must have been the same fish, because it had two minnows in its mouth.

Jon's Walleye

Me holding Jon's fish

While the boys pulled up the fish, I worked on a craft project ~ I hung some birch bark snowflakes above the stove.  I'm trying to give this place a little personality!  I am really happy with the outcome.

Birch bark snowflakes from a local artist

After awhile, we decided to watch some movies ~ Grumpy Old Men, and Grumpier Old Men.  The first was filmed in Minnesota during the winter and featured ice fishing.  The latter was during in the summer, with some of the scenes filmed near our neighborhood.  In fact, I drive past the street that was graced by Sophia Loren and Ann Margaret every day!  Jon's Dad stopped in to make sure we saw the sunset.

Hard to capture the beauty of this sunset

Around 3:15 am, we heard one of the reels moving fast.  I jumped for the camera, and my Dad set the hook and started pulling.  He almost had the fish out of the water when the fishing line broke.  Jon was still in the top bunk, he looked down, and said that the fish was still at the top of the hole ~ Grab it!  My Dad reached in and pulled the fish out, when we measured, it was 24" long.  The regulations at Mille Lacs say you can keep fish between 18-20", and over 28", so this one went back into the drink, but it sure was fun to catch!

Bruce with a whopper!

The next morning, we used Jon's new camera to look around down at the bottom of the lake, but we didn't see much...

You can see the bottom of the lake on camera, and how thick the ice is here

So we decided to pack up and go home.  But first I snapped an extra photo of our cabin for all of you!