Thankful Outdoors: Ice Fishing & Year-End Reflections


Welcome to 2021; the struggle of remembering to write the year as 2021 instead of 2020 is now upon us. Numbers are the standard method of how we keep track of time. Time is the topic I would like to share with you today and leave you with thoughts of appreciating each moment you have in time.

We all have some clock that will expire; we don’t know when that moment will happen, so we often say the phrase to each other, live life to the fullest. As humans, the idea of time can scare us or create stress for us. As each moment goes by, it takes us one second closer to that unknown timer going off.

Last weekend I finally had an opportunity to make it out on the ice. The Eau Pleine Flowage is in prime ice village status with all the shacks and people getting out. As with many of my outdoor adventures, I try to find areas of isolation; it was off Highway O that had the least amount of shacks, which is where I would spend my afternoon.

I was getting gear from the truck, a dad and son of about four years old pull into the parking lot. The little boy sees Boone and comes running over to greet Boone, who is just as excited to make a new friend. I told the Dad it was okay for his son to pet Boone; he is a friendly dog. The Dad heads back to his truck to get their gear together as the little boy and Boone bond.

Another truck pulls into the parking lot, and the guy gets out to start talking fishing with me. After a while, he looks at the little boy and says, “Oh, are you going fishing with Grandpa today?” The lightbulb went off, and I realized that this guy who appeared to be around my age also just called me a grandpa. I respond and say, “Oh, that boy isn’t my grandson; he is just a kid who came over to pet my dog!”

I wished the guy good luck fishing and headed out to the ice; Boone and I soon found our spot for the day. As we were sitting in the shack, I chuckled to myself about the conversation at the boat landing and thought, jeez, Scott, you are not aging well in life if at 46 years old you are being called a grandpa.

That afternoon I thought a lot about time. Reliving memories in my head about growing up with my brothers, the friends I made in high school, the stupid stuff that I have done in life, the number of hours I have spent fishing and hunting. How long would it take before I caught the first fish of the day? How much more time would I have left doing all these outdoor activities. Ironic how much time one can spend thinking about time!

Maybe I spent too much time drinking beer and whiskey, smoked too many cigarettes, haven’t kept any good sleep habits in life at all. I abused my body by putting it out in some of mother nature’s harshest conditions from cold, windburn, and sunburns. I spent a lot of time laughing so hard that you cry.

Sure, I could color my beard to get rid of the salt and pepper, which is now more salt than pepper, I could get procedures done to reduce the wrinkles. But then I thought, why do any of that? The way I look is a timeline of the life I have been fortunate enough to live.

In my afternoon on the ice, I had convinced myself that I had done a pretty good job of living life to the fullest. Oh, the first fish took about an hour to catch!

As far as details on the bite that day, I was fishing a giant sand flat area in 19 feet of water. The fish were right on the bottom. I was switching things up between waxie and crappie minnow. Once I would get them to mark on the locator, all fish were pretty responsive. If I couldn’t get them to bite on a waxie, I would drop a full crappie minnow on Swedish pimple; with a few light twitches, I would usually get them to hit. Of course, you miss a few bites, and I did lose a decent feeling fish on the way up to the hole. Overall though, I caught six fish, three short walleyes, and three perch. The ice conditions were excellent; close to eight inches of ice, with the lack of snow cover ice cleats, were needed to walk around safely.

This year’s ice conditions should be pretty solid ice, we finally got some colder temps to lock things up, and there was no snow cover to create insulation or a slush top to things. Be safe out there, though; they warn us all the time that there is no such thing as “safe ice.”

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Scott Hopperdietzel
Author: Scott Hopperdietzel

Scott Hopperdietzel is the creator of an outdoor blog named Thankful Outdoors. He shares his passion for the outdoors with readers. The focus of the blog is to “Celebrate the Experience” in his stories; you feel what the connection to the outdoors means to him. His goal is to inspire others to get into the outdoors and create their own experience. Along with writing, he is a father to three boys who are often part of the adventures along with the family Weimaraner, Boone. You can find his writings on the website or follow his social media platforms on Facebook, Instagram, and YouTube.