First Pike

Does anyone like to ice fish? I ask this because I used to HATE ice fishing! We would go all the time when I was younger and it sucked. I was always freezing cold, the wind was blowing constantly and we sat on five gallon buckets around a hole all day and never caught anything! Such a boring way to spend a weekend I always thought. Well if you agreed with me, I hope the rest of this changes your mind.

Dalton likes to ice fish, and I would never go with him because as I said above my experience with it was not fun. Fortunately for me though, Dalton convinced me to go with him one weekend. At this time we were living in Fairfield, Montana and the options of where to go were limited. We ended up driving to Pishkun Reservoir which is about 50 miles northwest of Fairfield. It was snowing and the wind was blowing like usual in that area. My mind was changed first when we set up our ice house. It is a four person Eskimo tent that is super easy to set up. All four sides and the top just pop open when you pull on a tab. The tent kept the wind out but not necessarily the cold. If I remember right the temperature was below freezing before the wind chill. Dalton had brought a small propane tank and a heater that attached directly to it. When this was running I was able to fish in just my t-shirt, no jacket, hat or gloves needed!

Soon enough I decided that I could learn to ice fish like this. A nice tent to keep the wind off, a heater to keep me warm, and I never had to go outside. When I was younger we never had the tent or heater. We were out on the ice for probably three hours and I started to get bored. I kept thinking about how typical it was to never catch anything ice fishing. We had brought Peyton with us, (we didn’t have Case yet), and her and I played outside for a while to keep from going insane. Bringing Peyton was not a horrible idea! She had a blast, but having her in the tent was a little crowded and I worried about her running around out on the ice. I didn’t want her to fall in. Nowadays we don’t usually take either dog when we go ice fishing.

After about another hour or two without catching anything we decided to call it a day and start breaking stuff down. Dalton had gone outside to reel up the six other holes we had drilled. I should mention that we had tip-ups, or for those of you who don’t know what that is, it’s a contraption that holds an ice fishing pole for you. You drill holes a ways from the tent, then take the tip-ups and place them over the holes. They are square so they won’t fall through the hole. Then the pole is placed in its holder and a spring loaded flag will pop up when something pulls on the line. We set these up to better our chances of catching a fish. As I was saying, Dalton went to pick those up while I cleaned up in the tent. Right then is when my mind was changed for good! One of the lines started going out so I grabbed the pole and started reeling in! I caught my first ever Pike and my first ever fish ice fishing! The experience was so fun and I regret not going more when I was younger!

Setting tip-ups

Also when we go, we use a big black sled to pull most everything, from the tent, to the auger, poles, buckets, heater and propane tank. It makes life so much easier and the sled doesn’t have to be anything special just something to pull everything in. We also wear YakTrax, which go over our boots and have small spikes on the bottom for traction on the ice. These are a life saver! Always be sure to check with your local Fish, Wildlife and Parks before going out on a lake. There are times when it is safe and not safe to go on the ice! Ice fishing started out as something I dreaded doing and now I look forward to it every winter. It is a great hobby to have in the cold weather and with the right gear it is enjoyable! I would like to mention that we do catch and release all of our fish.

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