Yesterday was take a kid ice fishing day, I know, I didn’t know there was such a thing either. I had offered my services as ice fishing guide to a fellow I work with who also happens to be a cub scout leader. I sort of figured it would be fun for the kids to get out on a lake and give it a try.
I haven’t been around cub scouts in a looong time. Mrs S was kinda concerned..
“You’re doing what?” “Taking some cubscouts fishing”. Her first concern was legitimate “dude, how’re you going to keep a grip on your language.” “Not a problem.” She was skeptical. “You’re also gonna have to find you’re inner patient dude’”. Well, I thought, we’re only going to be out there an hour or two, I can hold it together for that long.
Additional complications, all my equipment was in Wisconsin. I don’t have anything here at home, most especially a Vexilar or a tackle. Vexilar is a electronic sonar unit mounted on a box, a portable fishfinder if you will. I wouldn’t waste a second fishing on the ice without one. A good sonar unit and some understanding of how to read one tells you your depth, what kind of bottom you’re over (mud, gravel, rocks) if you’re over weeds and most importantly; are there fish down there.
My plan was to hit a local lake I’ve fished before, one that’s loaded with tiny panfish. Tiny panfish may not be of interest to adults, but to 8 year olds action and catching fish is waaay more important than quality.
Luckily one of my good pals happened to be around and volunteered come out and help as well, he had all the equipment so my investment would be minimal. This would be good since I also realized that I hadn’t bought a Minnesota fishing license this year. We headed out early to pick up some bait, small jigs, a license and some clip on depth finders. I thought I’d give each kid a depth finder, I do remember that young boys like to have something to take home from an event.
Seriously, you couldn’t have asked for a better day to be out on the lake. It had to be 35-40 degrees out there. For Minnesota in mid-February downright balmy, and I quickly shed the jacket. We drilled some holes, set up some jig sticks for the kids and were ready. Nice thing about ice fishing, the rods and reels can be really cheap since you aren’t really casting or moving lots of line around.
Kids showed up and we were in business. The Vexilar showed lots of fish under us, but based on way they were biting not exactly jumping on the hooks.. needed a little finesse. Having done this before I watched bobbers going down but no fish coming up. Kids have a hard time setting hooks. It’s a timing issue, but if an old guy holds the line between his fingers and tells the kids he’s “you have to hold your mouth right”.. and while they work on their fishing faces sets the hook for them, catch rates go waay up. In an hour or so out on the lake every kid caught fish, in most cases several cases.
Best part of the day, big smiles and, of course the fun that starts when boys get bored. Personally I like the who spent a 1/2 hour fishing minnows out of the bucket and dropping them back in. I also like the kid who dug into the snacks and never even looked down a hole.
Heh. All in a great way to take a kid fishing and at the same time planting the seed for the next generation of fisherman.
And of course, how to weave a good fish story-