Ice Fishing: Plan on Falling Through (Seriously, go jump through the ice)

Ice Fishing: Plan on Falling Through (Seriously, go jump through the ice)

It’s Plunge day. One thing's for certain, the Polar Bear Plunge is the ultimate in pattern interruption for what can be the doldrums of winter. For adrenaline junkies, endorphin aficionados, and anyone looking to ‘think local’ and support their neighborhood charity the Polar Bear Plunge is where it’s at. Every year right around MLK (Martin Luther King Jr.) day Halloween comes early for us plungers. There are costumes aplenty, endless snacks and treats, and it’s always a hot cocoa (now) and Netflix (later) kinda day. 

Speaking of great costumes, when I was a kid Halloween was my favorite holiday. I loved the costumes, the ghoulishness, and fall weather. That, and I was in control of how fast I ran, how many houses we could hit, and therefore how much reward/candy I received. It was a game and everyone was on an even playing field. It didn’t matter if you were a kid from an affluent family or if your parents didn’t know where your next meal was going to come from. Everyone played by the same rules and everyone was rewarded according to the effort they put forth. Those are the American values we hold above all else. A Holiday, in a land, and personification of endless opportunity. 

Well, ‘This is 2021’ and these days anyone with a mobile/cell phone/smart device, anyone, can start their own business. Think about these two factoids for a moment: 1.) There is more computing power in your phone that what all of NASA had when they put a man on the moon! 2.) It takes 10,000 hours of doing before you become a proficient expert. Before you can become unconsciously competent at something. 

The average person will hit the 10,000 hour mark on their phone in just over 5yrs from the date of their first purchase. Baby boomers will take 5.5yrs. Millennials just 4.8yrs. The only relevant question you need ask yourself is do you want to have your PhD in Facebook stalking or championing a cause. Do you want to be an expert at consuming YouTube videos or creating value? Would you rather be unconsciously competent at Amazon purchases or perfecting your greatest hobby? 

As you’ve no doubt noticed the above are all false choices. In other words, they are not mutually exclusive ideas. You can have all of the time you like watching Disney+ or Pinning on Pinterest or tweeting on Twitter AND you can evolve a hobby, start a start-up, and dedicate time to something you believe in. You can do all of these things with more variety and efficiency than any other single human being who has ever lived before us. 

Speaking of doing things the vast majority of our ancestors would never dream of intentionally doing. Jumping into ice cold water sound crazy? What about starting your own business and plunging in head first. Two very different experiences and yet both reside outside of what most people would call their comfort zone. 

‘Sell crazy somewhere else, we’re all stocked up here.’ There’s no other quote quite as fitting. And for anyone looking for the ultimate in pattern interruption the ice water plunge is As Good as it Gets. Humans, like all animals, are ‘creatures with habits’ – Remnar Sodi. We are who we are, but in addition to becoming more selfless, another noteworthy thing occurs with age. We knowingly or unknowingly develop more and more regimens. 

If one is so inclined, the quickest and most effective way to interrupt these ingrained behaviors is by stepping outside of our comfort zones. These comfort zones, just like the individual people they represent, vary a great deal from person to person. Each individual’s level of comfort is like a rubber band that, with time and the courage of countervailing resistance, can expand and stretch ours into uncharted territories and experiences not yet imagined. 

Ice fishing is another such adventure. You drag your gear and shelter out on the ice. You drill your holes for tip-ups, electronics, and micro jigging rods. It’s cold and daring, and did I mention, cold. It’s well outside of most people’s comfort zones. But if done right, ice fishing can be an absolute blast. It’s both challenging and rewarding. Fish in cold water is never fresher than when it’s pulled through the ice. You get skunked and fire up your auger to drill more holes; you move your shanty; and pass the Woodford Reserve around. There’s community and a ‘hard-water’ comradery that exists beyond the frozen shoreline. 

We recommend always dressing as if expecting to fall through the ice. Dress in layers and make sure your outer layer won’t act like a sponge and then anchor if it gets wet (Carhartt makes great products, but they aren’t meant for swimming in. Snowmobile bibs are another poor choice in outerwear for ice fishing. Cotton absorbs water very quickly and becomes very heavy). We also recommend having ice picks (especially when alone) and either a.) Wearing a life vest (far too many individuals venture out unprepared or underprepared for both the elements and risks) or b.) Buying a float suit (Striker, Frabil, and other make some great safety products). 

I myself have never been a fan of first ice or last ice. I’m a fan of thick ice. I don’t mind drilling through 12-20 inches of frozen water because that means it’s safe. Once you have kids you experience a heightened sense of awareness too. Not just as safety pertains to ice or ice fishing, but especially around water and ice generally, to be certain. Even where the ice is thick enough to drive a truck there are still newly frozen cores and pike spearing arenas. There are Apps for ice fishing too. Apps for determining whether or not ice in your area is safe. We use Ice Report where users log the ice they find and on which lakes and the App then tracks how many days since the report was made. 

The next time you’re drinking cocoa and watching the tele on a cold February morning. The next time the long winter blues come to visit. The next time you have a minute to reflect and realize you don’t ski and you don’t snowmobile, and don’t have winter hobbies to speak of, reconsider fishing. Get Hangry for the outdoors; download an Ice report App from the Google Play Store; peruse the online classifieds for some used ice fishing gear; or simply grab a five gallon bucket and your kids sled, and ask someone to drill a few holes for you once you get out to Shanty Town. 


Into the wild and HangryOutdoors,

Article written by Mike (Been jumped in) Hiller


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