Omena Lake – Ice Fishing

I’ve never been all that intrigued by ice fishing, but I lived in Michigan ON a lake during the winter. Oh, my brother-in-law DID like ice fishing. It didn’t hurt that people tended to catch Lake Perch, loved that Lake Perch. If you are visualizing one of those nice snug warm ice fishing huts you can just get that out of your mind right now.

I was equipped with the more standard ice fishing equipment. A small seat that contained all my gear and had room for a Coleman lantern in the front, providing not only light, but served as your only heat source. In my other hand I carried a “spud”. It was basically an over-sized ice chipper about 4 feet long, for chopping holes in the ice to fish from.

On top of my usual cold weather clothes, long johns and a flannel shirt, I wore surplus navy arctic weather bib overalls and surplus military “Mickey Mouse Boots”, white arctic boots. I also wore my Arctic Jacket with the igloo hood covering my stocking capped head. Snowmobile Mittens finished off my fishing attire. I felt like I was 8 years old again, barely able to move after being bundled up by Mom to go out in the snow.

One day I decided that I wanted to try out a spot that I had luck fishing at in the summer. THAT spot was actually on a small section of the lake hidden from the rest of the lake. You had to go down this small channel before breaking out onto this small section of the lake. There wasn’t but one house over there. The one with a 4 or 5 car garage and a lot of yard. Over there on the far side.

The lake had been frozen for a long time and I didn’t think twice about heading out on my own. It was a long and uneventful walk down to the channel, down the channel, and then across to the west side.

And then the ice beneath me cracked! I froze! Oh crap, that’s NOT just the lake creaking! The ice started to go soft beneath me. I tried to slowly back up, but the ice gave way and I was suddenly looking up at the surface of the water!

The spud was still in my hand and it had NOT fallen into the hole. I pulled myself up to the surface. Only a small hole had broken through and I was able to put my weight on the spud without it breaking through the ice. I don’t recall being all that concerned about being cold at the time, it was more important that I find a way out of the water.

I tested the ice around the hole and, using the spud to distribute my weight, threw my chest up out of the water landing draped across the spud. It held! Slowly I began to inch away from the hole, keeping the spud beneath me to spread out my weight. I only got a few feet away before I got to my knees and scrambled away from the hole. Woohoo! I’m going to LIVE!

I know it sounds stupid, but using the spud at its fullest length, and with me laying on my stomach, I managed to retrieve my seat (with all my gear) from the soft ice. I couldn’t just leave it there.

So, without even fishing, I started making the trek BACK to the cabin. And NOW I was getting COLD. By the time I reached the channel my arctic gear had ALL frozen solid. I could not bend my legs or arms. The ice was too thick. So I had to wobble along like a penguin Popsicle. The only thing that kept me going after the channel was knowing that I was 2/3 of the way home. Once I made it around the point, I could SEE the cabin and that was enough to finish the journey.

I remember that I could not move to take those clothes off, and I seem to remember my wife being there for me. To be honest, that’s all I remember.

“Damn my Swiss Cheese Memory!” (Sam from the TV Show “Quantum Leap”) LOVED that series….

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