Thursday, January 6, 2011

New Year's Eve Ice Fishing near Ely, Minnesota

New Year's Eve and New Year's Day were full of plenty to do.  My son, Simon had a Time Trial with the Ely Nordic Wolves Ski Team.  There was, of course, football on the tube.  Oh, and more football before and after that game.  There were parties to go to each day.  We were still enjoying the big snow and the quiet comfort of a warm living room with our Christmas Tree.

I could have easily got caught up in the non-drama of everything and taken a big long nap on the couch.  When you live in Ely, though, it is too beautiful outside to pass up adventure.  You can't just sit inside and watch it all go by your window.  You've got to get out and get in the mix.

We packed up the jeep and went fishing.

As the afternoon deepened we drowned some minnows, froze a few and ran around the lake to keep our feet warm.  We opted out of setting up our portable house and just wanted to stay outside and experience the winter day.

It was cold enough to freeze the water bottles shut after you took a few swallows and shut the cap.  It was cold enough to freeze a skim of ice over the holes in about 5 minutes.  I highly recommend the foam style slip bobbers that you see in the holes.  When they get iced up, all you do is pick them up and squeeze them and all the ice comes off.  They go right back to their normal shape.

There was quite a bit of slush under about 10 inches of snow and the lake we were on had about 8 - 10 inches of good ice.  The slush has gotten worse on nearly all the lakes since January 1st, and although it is a little better now after two very cold nights, it still bogs down skiers, dogsledders, snowshoers alike.  Vehicles outside the BWCAW are having difficulty if they get off the plowed roads.  (yes we plow roads on the lakes!)

Fishing usually drops off with January's weather changes, and it was our luck that we didn't have any walleyes to fillet.  We did however enjoy our favorite ice fishing snack, a staple:  Zup's polish sausages or polackers as we call them.  "Little Smokies" my kids like to say.  Boil them up in a coffee can until the skin cracks when you bite them and you've got a heavenly snack.  Add some Zup's Hot Mustard and a slice of wheat bread and you start to forget about the fish!

Here's some pics of our fun!

Tim Stouffer

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