This is the time of the year when I, speaking as a fisherman, am in sort of limbo. I have pretty much put my fishing in a holding pattern for now and am just waiting for ice-over. I have to admit that I am not a diehard ice fisherman, but I do like to occasionally fish with my grandson Trevor when he asks.
Ice fishing has become so much more than drilling a hole and sitting on a bucket hoping for a bite. Now we have technology that does pretty much everything except physically attach a fish to your hook. Just like open water fishing, I have given in to technology as far as a locator goes. I don’t have one with all the bells and whistles because all that I care about is the depth, water temperature and if there are any fish in the area.
When I am up at our cabin I enjoy taking our 12-foot boat with the old 5.5 horse Evinrude Sport Twin on it and going to one of the many small lakes that dot the area. I guess it is sort of a nostalgia thing for me to fish like I did when my Uncle Ben took me fishing. It was pretty basic; we’d fish walleye in early morning and in the evening; during the day we would troll for northern or fish crappie and bluegill. Ben had one of those old green 5 horse Johnson motors that seemed to run forever. In looking back, I can almost smell the fumes that that motor emitted; to this kid, this was indeed the smell of fishing.
This time of year also brought me back to the days of roaming the slough north of town. Weather like we have been experiencing lately was prime for wet boot and pant leg syndrome. The ice that was on the water was so thin that you could see through it all the way to the bottom and it would sag when you walked on it, which is what my dad called “rubber” ice. I spent a lot of time trying to convince my mother that my wet pant legs and boots full of water were totally accidental happenings.
Falling through the ice on the slough brought about a wet leg or two and boots full of ice-cold water, but the water was never so deep that it went above the knee. The downside of breaking through the ice was that a kid’s time of playing outside had just ended for that day.
If we were not playing adventurer at the slough, we would seek other avenues of enjoyment. As it was still football season and most of us kids liked to follow football, we would get a neighborhood game together. There were times when we only played with us kids who lived close to each other. You could have a game with four kids and if there was an odd number like five, the fifth one would be the center. That gave the team on offense a quarterback, a receiver and a center. The center played for both teams and was an eligible receiver.
All of the rules that we adhered to were made up as we went along and from time to time there would be a memory lapse by someone who wanted to shape the rules in favor of his team. This was all part of being kids and in the end it was just a whole lot of fun. An example of this is when a kid caught a pass and someone on the opposing team would claim that he was out of bounds. One kid would claim that the receiver was clearly on the in-bounds side of that small maple tree while his opponent would claim he was not. Most arguments ended with a do-over because we knew that if anyone made too big of a fuss, the game would just end.
These games and others like them were just a bunch of kids making their own fun. Another game we played was tag. This was usually played after supper when it was dark outside. Kick the can and Anti-I-Over were other favorites. The last one involved throwing a ball over a building and if the player on the other side caught the ball he or she had to chase the other players and tag them, which put them on the ball catcher’s team. Another one was cops and robbers or cowboys and Indians, which probably wouldn’t go over too well in today’s society. These were just a few examples of how we had fun playing outdoors as kids while making our own entertainment which, by the way, didn’t cost any money.
Until next time, the farmers are still in the fields, so be patient and be aware of them whenever they are traveling from one field to another.
Please take some time to honor those who have sacrificed so much for the freedoms that we enjoy today. Also take a little extra time to remember those who made the ultimate sacrifice, those who served and those troops that are serving today.