Most families I know didn't spend a large majority of the chilly Alberta weekends this past winter ice fishing together and I'm willing to wager that an even smaller percentage spent those weekends with extended family members tagging along as well. I apparently like to be an oddball in my choice of activities and I'm ok with that.
The common perception of ice fishing is one of sitting in a tent, freezing your tush to a 5 gallon pail while drinking hot toddies waiting for a fish to bite. While a few of those perceptions may be true – the cold being one of them – our weekends were so much more than waiting for fish to bite.
When you don't live in the same city as your family yet are lucky enough that they are a couple of hours away, meeting on a lake that is halfway to ice fish is a perfect way to spend the day together. There's no overnight stay involved, only one day is required and it's the perfect amount of time to spend with family, short and sweet.
It was also a joy to find that after knowing my family, well, my entire life of course, that I can still be surprised.
My Dad is an avid angler and actually has two Master Angler Awards from Manitoba. The link will take you to his Walleye award however his catfish award was before the records were put online. If you haven't heard of the Master Angler Awards, you surely didn't grow up in Manitoba. Sadly, Alberta has no such comparable awards and to be honest, we just don't get any fish that could even compete.
I'm jonesing to get out to Manitoba again. A Master Angler Award is on my bucket list.
My dad, awards and all, had never caught a whitefish.
I was astounded.
However it's true, he'd never really fished for them – you have to use exacting techniques for these picky little buggers- and I am happy to say that the two below are my Dad's first ever whitefish.
I love how as an adult I took my Dad fishing for his first whitefish.
But not only my Dad caught his first whitefish, we all caught our first whitefish this year.
This cutie patootie boy?
His first whitefish. Two, actually. He caught two in a row on what is now called the lucky fishing rod.
There is nothing like the smiles you get from a child holding their newly caught fish or their very proud Dad.
Not to be outdone, my daughter was the first one to catch a whitefish and in quite the lucky manner. She was dropping her lure into the water – a favored time for whitefish to hit the bait- and BAM. She shrieked that she had a fish on and started hauling it up.
Again, those smiles. You just simply cannot compare the joy and pride that radiates from these kids of mine when they are catching fish. It is worth every wet boot, every complaint that they are hungry, every hook I took to the thumb.
Some of my best memories from this winter came from moments like these.
My nephew also joined us and was fascinated with the whitefish.
Just smile, cutie patootie. Just smile.
He also brought his mom along with him.
My sister and I are always in what some might call *ahem* “healthy competition” mode so rare is the day when she's not trying to beat me fishing or vice versa.
We keep it clean. Very quiet and cutthroat like.
Very “we weigh our catches to the ounce” friendly competition like.
I totally owned her.
It's with a very tempermental pout and a winter boot clad foot stomp that I am packing away the ice fishing gear until next year. I'm not happy about it. I know that a huge reason is that the weather here in Alberta is absolutely horrible this spring. We are many degrees below where we normally are seasonally so we are stuck in this nasty weather slump.
There usually is some joy in packing away your winter sports gear because the weather itself is making you feel like the season has come to an end. The sun starts to shine with more heat, the feeling slowly seeps back into your icy Canadian toes, the grass peeking through the ice warms your heart and you turn your thoughts to other things. Ice fishing season closes April 1st and with that comes better weather, to move you onward in the season, to tempt you with starting your seedlings and plan your garden. To look forward to the first mushrooms of spring and getting outdoors to walk, hike, Geocache and more.
We broke a long standing record last week with a morning temperature of minus 20 degrees Celsius. The seasonal high is usually around plus 10 degree Celsius, yet has been hovering around only 2-3 above.
There's no closure this year. No prompt to move on with the season, Mother Nature is not giving us the normal signals to start tackling another season.
I'm cranky. If the weather is going to be this bad, then I may as well be out on the ice, fishing away. My thoughts aren't turned towards other spring things. My thoughts are seriously grumpy.
So I cheered myself up with a copy of the 2013 Alberta Fishing Guide.
It did cheer me up somewhat, planning out some fishing this summer.
How is everyone else faring during this uncommonly cold spring? Making any fabulous plans for summer? We have a lake lot at Gull Lake this year and I am dreaming – nightly- of getting out there and camping with the kids, fishing and beach days, oh my word, I can't wait.
Until then, I'll keep you entertained with ice fishing posts until spring actually decides it's going to arrive in Alberta.
I'd Love Just One More Day on the Ice Magpie