Ice fisherman blues

A fishing shack sits in Kimballs Bay, a quiet backwater of the St. Louis River estuary in Superior, Wisconsin.
A fishing shack sits in Kimballs Bay, a quiet backwater of the St. Louis River estuary in Superior, Wisconsin.

I like the ice fishing “idea” more than I like actually ice fishing.

I always wanted to build my own shack, paint it a funky color and stock it with a wood burning stove, a boom box and couple easy chairs. I would haul the thing out on a frozen lake, drill some holes and drop a line. If the fish didn’t bite, just blame the loud music and crack another beer.

A fishing shack is like an adult tree fort. Built with your own hands. Solid but not permanent. Located in the wilderness. Hard to get to. Not much to do when you get there and not many people around to spoil the experience.

It’s a warm place to hide from the world.

The “fishing” part of ice fishing is my big hang up.

Other outdoor recreation sports have an easy payoff. I can cast from a dock or a rowboat and usually catch a fish or two. Little ones follow the bait. Big ones jump.  The fish are there. I’ve caught dozens of northern, bass, crappie and sunnies in my day … and there’s not enough room here to discuss all my carp fishing heroics.

A birding adventure may not generate a great horned owl or a bald eagle, but it’s always easy to observe chickadees, robins or geese. Hunters may not have ducks land near their blind or pheasants flush at their feet, but game birds can be seen and heard out of shooting range. Even deer hunters are surrounded by nature as they await a passing buck.

Maybe I’m just bitter. In my youth, I was a frequent ice fisherman. A frequent ice fisherman that never caught a fish.

So maybe photographing the humble ice fishing shack is a way I can take some enjoyment from this winter sport.

Jen and I spent a recent Sunday cross-country skiing in the Superior Municipal Forest. Slightly lost somewhere on a long, narrow point high above the water line, I spotted this lone fish house. I unclipped my skis and marched through thick underbrush and deep snow until I found a vantage point.

Like dropping a line, I aimed my camera; and like jigging a minnow, I clicked away.

The picture posted above is what I caught on the ice that day.

I think it’s a keeper.

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