Ice Fishing And Me

Brendan Smithby Brendan Smith, Weirs Times Editor

Now that the ice fishing derby is finally over here in Central New Hampshire, I am no longer worried about expressing my trepidations.
Many members of FATSO, my winter support group, have asked me to teach them about this sport in order to help get over their winter doldrums but it is one thing, I am sometimes ashamed to admit to the group, that I know nothing about.
It’s not that I have anything against the sport itself, if that’s what you enjoy, it’s just not anything that I could ever get used to. I know a few folks who really enjoy ice fishing and when they express their often unbridled enthusiasm for it and then offer to take me out for a day of it, I will kindly refuse with an excuse that is starting to seem thin. After all, how can one person have to attend so many family wedding and funerals that always seem to occur on the second weekend in February?
If I was to tell them the truth, the fact that spending a frigid day outside sitting near a hole in the ice, even in one of those fairly comfortable bob houses, really has no appeal to me, I’m sure it would only encourage them to try even harder to get me out there and I really don’t need them to try so hard. So, I find it safer to just create another imaginary relative to make it easier for them.
If they only knew, I’m sure they would thank me.
If I had grown up going ice fishing then I’m sure I would be enjoying it today just as much as them. But I grew up on Long Island, New York where the thought of ice fishing was about as distant in our minds as the thought of eating a slice of pizza with a knife and a fork (something I have, I am ashamed to admit to old New York friends, succumbed to on occasion here after thirty years….the horror!!)
There weren’t any large lakes near where I grew up but there were a few small ones. In the winter they would freeze up and we would ice skate on them and that was about it. If anyone went ice fishing, I never saw them and if I did, I’m sure I would have kept far away from what would have been considered very strange behavior.
Obviously, Ice fishing on Long Island wasn’t a cultural tradition handed down from father to son like it is here in New Hampshire.
I can only imagine a conversation between a Long Island father and his son about going ice fishing:
“Come with me, my brave son, we are going ice fishing.”
“I said we are going to spend this cold winter day sitting in a wooden house on a frozen lake trying to catch a fish.”
“What? Why?”
“Because it will make a man of you my son.”
“Huh? Sure. You go ahead, I’ll catch up.”
I can also picture a frozen lake on the North Shore of Long Island, loaded with Lexus’, Mercedes and BMWs. Some people would be spending their day working at adding on additions to their bobhouses to keep up with the one next to them (this would be a big business for contractors). Others would be walking from their car to the custom built fishing hole they had built for their child to see if he (or she) was learning anything from the ice fishing consultant they had hired for the day. (Not to worry, though, even if they don’t quite get the hang of it they are guaranteed a prize at the fishing derby.)
So , as I’m sure you have figured out by now, ice fishing was never in my blood and it isn’t something I will ever attempt. Still, people will keep on insisting I try it.
“C’mon it will make a great story,” they insist with a devious grin.
Still, no one will ever get me out on that ice.
To wake up at 5am on a sub-zero winter morning, dress myself in layers of clothing and then drive my car onto something that is water nine months out of the year so I can sit inside a little house and wait for a stick to move will never appeal to me like it does to others.
I can think of better ways to spend my days. I could be productive like spending the time cleaning the basement or painting the bathroom or raking the roof or….hmmmm…come to think of it, maybe it would make for a great story after all.

Brendan’s new book “The Best of A F.O.O.L. in New Hampshire” will be published in early spring 2015.


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