My old man and I had been planning on getting some fishing in while I was home in Saskatchewan; however, the weather wasn’t behaving. Winds were gusting like crazy and causing the windchill to drop below -40 degrees celcius. Fortunate for me, the weather let up eventually, which gave us the opportunity to hurry out to Last Mountain Lake (Yea, so what, Saskatchewan likes irony) and drop our lines through a foot of ice.
We were joined by my youngest brother, Payden, my Dad’s fishing buddy Eric, and his Father-in-law, Wayne. Being the non-expert, I gladly sat back and observed the pro’s in action. Wayne has been fishing Last Mountain Lake for over 15 years, Summer or Winter, he’ll find a way to put his line in. Over the years I’ve managed to find myself falling through thin ice two times too many. Needless to say, I felt a heckuva lot safer knowing we had a couple seasoned professionals on board with us.
Meet the Artctic Cat
As my little brother and I unloaded the truck and threw whatever we could onto the Snowmobile, the old boys dragged out the collapsable ice fishing cabin and proceeded to attach it onto our sweet ride, the Arctic Cat. Faster than your average feline, and comfortably sits 3. As the final rods and tackle were loaded up, Wayne was happy to let us young guys hop on the sled with him. Take that walking!
The snowmobiles motor roared and we were off, dragging what I could only guess was over 900 pounds of gear and body. I couldn’t help but think “All those Christmas sweets could actually be the death of me”. I laughed it off as we picked up speed and watched as the snowy shore lined with cottages faded towards the horizon. Wayne let up on the throttle and slowed us down to a spot he thought might be deep enough to catch something.
18 Feet And Counting
He used his fancy ice penetrating laser depth finder to find out we were still only above 18 feet of water. He suggested we head a little further out in the hopes that we’ll have better luck, and to avoid snagging any Jacks. The engine roared back to life and we continued on, despite knowing perfectly well the weather was turning on us. What was once a sunny blue Saskatchewan sky with calm winds had turned overcast and dropped to well below -35 with windchill. Prairie weather can be so unpredictable in the winter.
A Cold Walk On Ice
We slowed down to our final location and began unloading gear. The ice fishing cabin was quickly set up, and all the luxaries were quickly placed inside. This wasn’t Waynes first rodeo, he came prepared. Kerosene heater, check. Fancy laser depth finder, check. Underwater fishing video camera with 10 inch display, check. Prepared indeed! As we finished setting everything up, my old man and his pal Eric finally made it. They were forced to walk all the way out on account of the lack of room on the snowmobile. Poor bastards.
Drilling the Lake
Eric promptly picked up the auger and began to drill himself a hole in the ice. The ice was no match for this giant drillbit and it sunk through like a hot knife through butter. Water spewed out of the hole as the auger was pulled up, bringing shards of ice along with it. You could practically smell how cold it was down there. I quickly went over some old safety tips I had learned as a kid if you ever fall through the ice. I approached the hole and laughed at how thick the ice was. I thought to myself “Yea, I won’t be needing those.”
Prepare to Fish
Within minutes, we each had our own ice fishing hole along with baited lines dropped in. Our hooks dropped 20 odd feet and lay there waiting patiently, “Here fishy fishy fishy…” Part of me expected to haul out a marlin of a fish within the first few minutes, it just made sense to me judging by my prowess with fishing up north in the summer. Unfortunately, that wasn’t so. I sat and waited patiently.
Waiting for Fish
Time ticked by and still nothing. The underwater video camera showed a barren lake floor. I stepped outside of the heated cabin to see how the old boys were doing. Same situation over there. I couldn’t help but laugh at how red their faces were from the wind. If it weren’t for their relaxed bodies I’d think they were raging mad. They laughed as they saw me reaching for the bag where I stored a couple beers.
Coldest Ice Fishing, Ever
A snag, a false alarm, and a couple beers later and we still didn’t have a single thing. Wayne was apologizing on behalf of the lake, I insisted there was no need. Whether we caught anything or not, it’s still been fun. It’s not everyday you get to go ice fishing, and half the fun is just being out there. As the hours continued on, the weather continued to drop. It was getting to the point where skin was freezing, and we all decided to call ‘er quits.
As we loaded everything up I thanked Wayne and Eric for bringing us out here. They insisted I come back soon to try again, and I promised I would. I got a taste for the ice fishing, and I sure as hell am going to catch something out there one of these days. Unfortunately, that won’t be this winter. The truck was warm, and I had some extremities to unthaw. Fish or no fish, I had a blast!