When ice fishing, use respect versus fear

By Steve Anderson


Nearly everything we humans do seems to require a good balance between respect and fear.

This is especially true for most of us with an outdoor adventurous spirit.

The first time we do anything we begin to move from fear toward respect. As we gain experience, it is essential that we never move on past respect or consequences are likely!

Ice fishing in Southeast Iowa is a key example. An ever increasing number of people have found the large population of 9-10 inch crappies and ?cleanable? bluegills at Lake Darling.

Most of us have been keying on the 12-16 foot deep area near the mouth of the finger leading back to the campground. It has proven to be a ?bonanza? of success. Nearly everyone has been catching both species of fish, and quite a few of us limits.

Last Saturday morning I arrived an hour and a half before daylight, wanting to try a ?new to me? trick. I knew the ice was nearly a foot thick, so I felt completely safe walking out to the area where I had been having success in the total darkness (there was not even any moonlight).

I was the only one on the lake. I then drilled a 6 inch diameter hole and turned on my electronic fish detector. It showed nothing. My new trick, then, was to stand an LED flashlight vertically so that its beam of light shined down through the ice.

Within 5 minutes, fish began moving into the field of my electronics, and I began catching crappies. And I mean fast!

Within a short period I had 18 in my bucket. At that point a person I did not know came walking up out of the dark. He started a power auger within 20 feet of me! Of course, that ended the fish catching.

How many of you would do that? Me neither.

Nor would I be shouting obscenities to my fellow fishermen when I caught a fish or it got off like was happening last night. I want our sport to be fun for my whole family, and do not appreciate that kind of language, and would have had even more trouble tolerating it had my wife or kids been there.

IE: Please fellow sportsmen, let us show a little more class and respect.

The warm weather we are currently experiencing greatly adds to your odds of taking ?the polar plunge? if you don?t respect the ice.

There are already very unsafe areas, such as where water runs in (jetties, steam entrances, boat ramps, etc.) and around dark objects (docks, trees, etc). Without snow, experienced ice anglers can avoid these.

Experienced anglers are also well aware that even ten inch thick ice becomes unstable and can fail without warning during very warm periods.

Experienced anglers are the people wearing picks all year long.

Now, as the weather warms even more experienced anglers reluctantly respect nature and give it up for the season. I cannot suggest strongly enough that fellow sportsmen weigh their respect versus fear carefully.

Steve Anderson is the Executive Director of the Washington County Conservation Board.