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It's Our Turn: Are you ready for ice fishing ... in May?

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That wonderful time is here. The time when we anglers don our hats and sunglasses, stockpile bait and fishing tackle, break out the rods and reels, and get the boat all ready for...ice fishing?

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Wait. Did I miss something here?

I have fished on opener with my dad and grandpa for as long as I can remember, and ice has never been a problem. Well, OK, it did snow quite heavily a couple years ago, but at least we were able to use the boat.

The ice this year is like a cockroach. It refuses to die. It's sitting there hunkered down atop the lakes, all triumphant like, taunting Mother Nature as if saying, "Come at me, Bro!"

It's times like this that just make me giggle. I'm such a winter girl. The sooner the ice leaves, the sooner you get to hear me complain about how hot it is outside.

When I hear people complain about snow or the ice, I just smile (or growl quietly, depending on whether that was the 50th person I'd heard complaining that day). I smile because it's the weather, and there's nothing, absolutely nothing, we can do to control it.

So this year, for the first time, we've had to postpone our fishing trip. Even if the ice does go out, the fish haven't been able to do their thing, so the fishing wouldn't be all that great anyway.

Ha. So instead of telling a great opener story, I get to tell a great ice fishing story. 'Cause I know how much y'all miss winter!

My dad recently bought one of those big ice houses that has bunk beds and, like, 30 holes. We set out for a three-day trip up north to Red Lake, the lake with millions upon millions of fish, where you can literally drop a line anywhere and snag a fish.

This was the first time I'd ever stayed overnight on the ice, not like I was scared or anything. I grew up ice fishing. Not to mention the ice was more than three feet thick. Dang, I'd never seen it so thick. No wonder ice-off is taking so long.

We sat down, dropped the lines and waited. There was a lot of movie watching, Internet surfing and reading. And then there's that moment of panic/elation when the first reel starts to jingle.

The fish came in hungry, and by the time a span of a half hour was up, the score was four to four...well, my four walleye to my dad's four perch.

With success, we fried up some fillets and hash browns, microwaved baked beans and watched A Few Good Men. We didn't have many fish bites during the night, but some early in the morning sent me leaping from the top bunk.

The next day had more movies, Internet surfing, a few games, and that awkward moment when I'm too out of shape to sprint through snow to pull in the tip-up.

I invented a new method when I'm impatient with the fish. You've gotta kick the line. Yup. Kick it, with your foot. I did it twice, and both times, a fish practically inhaled the bait. But I haven't perfected the method yet, so it's not quite tried and true.

By the next night, I was feeling a little grimy and exhausted. Hey, it's hard work pulling in all those fish. So whenever the line went down during the night, I merely mumbled to my dad in a proper zombie-like fashion, "Mmm...fish..."

It was an awesome experience overall, capped off by a four-hour, white-knuckled drive home through the worst white-out storm of the season. It was great! (Sorry, Dad. I appreciate the toll that it took on your nerves, I really do.)

Despite the fact that my fishing opener trip has been moved back, I'm cool with it. It gives me a chance to do something with my mama for Mother's Day.

I mean, I do want to go fishing, but I'll get out there eventually. No sweat. Until then, every time I hear someone mention the "ice" weather we're having, I'll just keep smiling.

• • •

"It's Our Turn" is a weekly column that rotates among members of the Echo Press editorial staff.

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Jessica Sly
Jessica Sly has been working as a content writer at the Echo Press since May 2012, contributing, proofreading and editing content for both the Echo and Osakis Review. A Wadena native, she graduated from Verndale High School in 2009 and worked that summer at the Wadena Pioneer Journal as an intern reporter. She attended Northwestern College in St. Paul (now the University of Northwestern - St. Paul), where she earned a Bachelor of Arts in English with a concentration in writing and a minor in Bible. In her spare time, she enjoys playing the piano (and learning the violin), reading, writing novels, going to the movies, and exploring Alexandria.
(320) 763-1232
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