I am aware that some read this article on a regular basis and aren't into ice fishing get bored with me from December until about April. This week is for you. You are the hardcore open water fishermen. You probably get impatient for the winter to get over so the lakes become liquid again. You watch fishing shows, reorganize your tackle boxes, spend time online looking for the latest gear for the upcoming season, and read articles to pass the time until you can launch your boat.
I can relate. I like ice fishing, but I love open water fishing. I consider myself to be an open water specialist, and that is what I find easiest to write about.
For those of you that don't supplement your fishing with time on the ice, I have a few suggestions of other fishing related activities you can enjoy during the off season that will continue to fulfill your passion. Many of the communities in our area offer Community Education classes on activities like ice decoy carving and fly tying. Classes on fishing basics and using electronics and GPS have also been offered. These classes can be a great way to stay plugged into your sport. Watch for other workshops or classes offered by sport shops or marine shows. They can be fun, social, and informative. Developing hobbies such as making and/or painting jigs, tying bucktail jigs, or tying spinners can not only fill your time, but help prepare you for the upcoming season. My sons, Jake and Josh, learned how to pour and paint jigs and tie bucktails by the time they were in middle school. These skills can last them a lifetime and be re-visited when time and lifestyle allows. Almost all the major sporting goods suppliers have molds, production pots for melting lead, supplies, and "how to" manuals that make these hobbies easier to come by now than they ever used to be.
Many fishing enthusiasts also develop other hobbies associated with the fishing industry. Collecting old, classic, or nostalgic fishing equipment would be an example. The fun is not limited to developing the collection. The road trips, garage sales, swap meets, bait shop visits, and Internet searches and purchases to build the collection become a significant part of the pursuit. Sharing time with a family member or buddy chasing after treasures also helps create the stories and memories that go along with the collection. Some fishermen get hooked on old lures and the stories behind the development of that aspect of the industry.
A little over a year ago I shared the story of the opportunity I had to learn custom rod building from Jerie Eckholdt. What an honor for me to have a craftsman like him mentor me. The feeling you get from building a rod you catch fish on, or having someone else use a custom rod you built and have success, is hard to describe. What a great sense of accomplishment and satisfaction. This is a great way for me to pass time and keep myself plugged into my passion during some of the down time that can occur during the winter. I have a feeling my sons will be the beneficiaries of the lessons I have learned from Jerie.
If ice fishing isn't your thing, or only a little bit your thing, pick something else to do with fishing and go for it.
(Laabs runs Brad Laabs Guide Service in Detroit Lakes.)