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The psychology of ice fishing

A lot of people think a person has to be crazy to go ice fishing. After all, what you are doing is deliberately deciding to spend a few hours walking upon the most slippery and untrustworthy substance known to mankind, provided you don’t count Trump’s press secretaries. All this is in order to catch dinner that could easily be bought at any seafood market or grocery store.

There’s more to it than that though. Ice fishing is a very pleasant way to pass winter, if you have the right tools. The most important of these is a colleague who loves drilling holes. In a perfect world, your friend would have just returned from a few years out west in the oil fields. I find people like this have a real penchant for drilling, especially if you can convince them that the lake you are on is an, as yet, unexploited oil patch.

It’s not all fun and games, however. To be convincing, you need to wear a hard hat and talk disparagingly about eastern Canada, which, if you think about it, is a small price to pay for getting your fishing holes drilled.

What I am saying should come as any surprise to veteran ice anglers. For they have always known that the worst part of ice fishing is creating your own little patch of open water to fish through.  Let’s face it, if it were easy, we’d make them big enough for our boats.

Interestingly, early ice anglers never used tools to create holes at all. In fact, they only realized that you could consistently break through the ice and find open water after a series of very successful bon fires on a newly frozen lake.

Soon after they learned they could do this more safely (for most), if they just walked out on the ice following a heaviest guy in the clan. This is why you see no ancient cave drawings of overweight cavemen.

The first real ice fishing tools were rocks and clubs.

This was an exhausting and inefficient way to break through the ice. Luckily for us, someone soon invented the ice spud, which was an equally grueling way to break through until another person invented reverse psychology.

That’s when the phrase, “Boy, there’s nothing more fun than chipping away at the ice” heralded in the golden age of ice fishing.

The art of breaking through ice was further advanced when someone invented the manual auger. This was the pinnacle of creating a fishing hole until an angler watching a figure skater do a prolonged pirouette on the lake realized that drilling a hole could be done even faster.

This led to the development of the gas powered auger, which at first was a figure skater who had been fed beans.

Eventually, and probably because no one could agree on the judging, this was replaced by an auger with a combustible engine. This machine allowed a person to go out on the ice and swear a lot when it wouldn’t start.

These days the power auger has been perfected in both gas and battery powered models. This has lead to more efficient and effortless ways to drill holes in the ice. But still the essential problem remains the same. Who gets to use it?

I certainly don’t have the answer.

All I know is, boy, there’s nothing more fun than chipping away at the ice.

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