Wild Northerner Magazine Winter 2018 - Page 16

HEADLINE: The amazing insanity of ice fishing

2nd HEADLINE: Brookie opener always an adventure

BY SCOTT HADDOW

Wild Northerner staff

With the sun setting, the group of guys I was fishing with on a remote backcountry frozen brook trout lake got together to figure out our way back to the trucks.

We had a hell of a day. It was Jan. 1, but it was warm and the ice was thin and soft. We smashed some sweet speckies. There was just one major looming issue.

The way we got to this lake was not a safe route for us back, with it being dark. We crossed three lakes, which included five sketchy sections with open water and deep slush pockets.

We had no idea there would be open water because if we did, we would not have gone this way.

We hit the sections and flew over the water patches, with everyone freaking out just a bit.

We plowed our way in on snow machines, going about 30-km. We had numerous challenges. We got stuck on hills on trails in-between lakes because the snow was too soft and deep. We did a lot of pushing, cursing, laughing and sweating.

Dave and I had to push snow machines up a steep and long hill. The other guys couldn’t stop once they got going, so Dave and I were left to walk up to the top. It was harsh. We were both pouring out sweat by the time we reached the crest of this hill.

We made it to the lake and it was spectacular.

The sun was shining. There was a slight breeze out of the west. We set up in a pinch point on the lake. It featured shallow water with deep water access and structure such as rocks and timber.

Bill, Dave, Terry and I spread out across the shorelines and the middle.

Less than a minute of Bill dropping his first line, he hooked a fish. A few moments later he hauled up a chunky three-and-a-half-pound brook trout.

We all jumped around for joy. It was on. We landed eight speckles that day, all more than three pounds, and a few pushing five pounds. I landed my three biggest brookies ever through the hardwater, so I was quite thrilled with the overall results.

Now, we had to leave and face the fact that we were going to be put to the test to get back home.

We really had one option. We had to go a way we didn’t come in and hope for the best. It was a longer route and included crossing one creek that Dave knew of. We took off on the snow machines. We got about 10 minutes from the lake when we hit our first obstacle.

Beavers had dammed up the area and made it a sunken, half-frozen mud pond about three-km long. The snow machines busted through and got bogged down in this cold, muddy, slushy slop. It was a treat.

The four of us essentially pushed, pulled and willed the machines through the long stretch. It held us up and got us all wet.

We started making good progress and crossed a few small creeks about one to two-feet deep and no more than three feet wide. We were all feeling good until we came around a sharp bend and hit a creek that was about 15-feet wide, and, in places more than four feet deep.

Dave and I hopped across on rocks and logs to the other side. Bill and Terry blasted their snow machines through the shallowest part. It wasn’t too bad overall. In fact, it gave us all a good laugh for some reason.

We then faced an hour-long ride back to the trucks from this point. We made more progress. Terry and Dave got ahead of us. We came around a corner and found their tow sled on the trail. The pin had broken. They didn’t notice.

We hooked up the tow sled to our tow sled and kept going. LOL, Dave and Terry didn’t notice for 10 minutes. Eventually they turned around and came back to get their tow sled.

We were all beat. It was worth every drop of sweat, chill and curse word.

We iced some beauty bruising brookies and came back with a good tale to tell.

The brookie opener is always insane.

The amazing insanity of ice fishing