Tuesday, January 17, 2017

Adventures in Ice Fishing

Winter is my second favorite time of the year at our lake cabin. Summer is the obvious winner, but winter brings peaceful surroundings and togetherness with our immediate family and the few neighbors who continue to use their cabins year round.

We try to spend as much time outdoors in the wintertime as possible. It's cold, yes, but it sure beats wasting away the weekend indoors!  Andi's taken to ice fishing because it's something we can all do together as a family. And, it's an activity we can do regardless of temperature. We have a large 8x16 ice house that we use for "camping on the ice" as much as we do for fishing. The kids love it! Andi bought a smaller deer stand / ice house this year that we use for shorter outings on the lake.

Last weekend, Andi and I decided to pull the ice house to Hayward, Wisconsin for something fun to do. Hayward is about 1 1/2 hours north of our lake cabin, and one of my favorite cabin towns. He hired a local fishing guide to take us crappie fishing on Lake Chippewa, then we planned to fish for walleyes overnight on Gindstone Lake.

Saturday morning, Andi and I packed the big ice house with food and cooking supplies, bedding and ice fishing gear. Then, we drove north to Hayward where we met Tom, the fishing guide. After we dropped our ice house in place, we followed Tom to Lake Chippewa. It was a nice treat having a local expect lead us to prime fishing spots on the lake. His ice shack was the perfect size for our family of four to use, and had a kickin' heater inside which is the key to my happiness. And, the crappie fishing was excellent! Andi and I reeled up one after another in our first 30 minutes of fishing.

Tory was (fishing guide) Tom's little shadow outside our shack. She followed him from tip-up to tip-up, playing in the snow and throwing snowballs. Every time he caught a fish, he'd let her reel it up for him.

Aden likes to fish, but he still has a tough time focusing his attention on it for long. Fortunately, I brought lots of snacks and his iPad which kept him busy while the rest of our family fished. Tory joined us for snacks inside the ice house whenever she needed to warm up.

We fished for two hours, then decided to head back to our ice house on Grindstone Lake for walleye fishing. I appreciate all Andi's work in setting us up for fishing. The kids and I played Old Maid inside our warm house on the lake while Andi worked outside to drill holes and set up tip-ups. Next, he cleaned all the crappies we caught earlier in the day and fried him for dinner. It was delicious!

Meanwhile, Aden kept saying his "mouth felt funny." He became increasingly fussy and kept asking to be held which isn't like him at all. I wasn't sure what he meant exactly since nothing had happened to his mouth, but I wondered if it meant he was about to get sick. Sure enough, as we were cleaning up dinner, Aden vomited all over the ice house floor, his clothes and mine. It was a mess! "Open the hole!" I shouted to Andi, so Aden could throw up through the hole in the floor into the lake. With no bathroom and no running water, there was nowhere else to go. Andi and I stepped all over each other as we worked to clean up the vomit and Aden. "Why do we do this to ourselves?!" I asked Andi in the moment of chaos. We contemplated packing up and driving back to our cabin, but it would take us a while to pull up the ice house, trailer it to the SUV and then drive the 1 1/2 hours home. So, we decided to ride it out in the ice house for the night.

I laid down with Aden in the double bed, and he fell asleep shortly afterward. Andi started a movie on the TV, and he and Tory watched it while they fished for walleyes until bedtime. Tory was such a great sport throughout the evening. She happily laid on the top bunk and watched her show, or fished alongside Andi. He even made her s'mores on the stove for a "camping" treat.

Aden threw up once more around 11:00pm, then we all slept the rest of the night. Thank goodness! The next morning, he was pale but spunky and seemed to feel much better. Andi chiseled his tip-ups from the ice outside while I made us breakfast - pancakes, eggs and sauteed kale.

As I cooked breakfast, I worked to fold up our bedding from the night. I grabbed Tory's blanket from the top bunk and heard a PLOP! Uh-oh. Tory's iPad must've been laying on the blanket and I didn't see it. It flung off and sailed perfectly through the open fishing hole in the ice house floor. Yikes! I couldn't believe it. Andi and I used his underwater fishing camera to see if we could find the iPad, but it was long gone.

Other things that fell down the fishing hole during our 24 hours in the ice house: Aden's leg (he stepped right in the hole and was drenched from boot to waist), Tory's boot (good thing it floated long enough for Andi to grab it!), and a minnow scoop ... just to name a few.

Andi fished for a bit longer that morning while the kids and I laid around and relaxed. Then, we packed up the ice house and drove back to our lake cabin.

As eventful as our evening had been, I wouldn't have changed a thing. It's all part of the adventure. Though I have to admit, I was never so glad to take a shower!

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