Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Ice Fishing

A few posts back I showed you the ice fishing "village" close to where I live. Today's presentation is a closer look at this neat village. First though, we had to actually get out, intrepid mother that I am....I sent my son out on the ice first! I did feel a bit nervous following him and leaving the safety of solid ground.

There are 3 streets of fishing shacks on the ice, each with a cute name. Wharf Lane, Bait Boulevard and Smelt Street. I counted 38 shacks on one street and estimate approximately 100 shacks on these 3 ice lanes. There were 2 official shacks on the back lane; the administration office and the fishing derby office ~ keeping in mind that these offices are actually shacks too.

This is the second lane, Bait Boulevard and Smelt Street is visible in the distance.
The catch is mostly smelt although there are Hake in the area as well. The fisherman are given information sheets from the administration office that lists what dates and times of day are best for what fish. The source of the information is a mystery however and the administration office wasn't open to ask. As that vehicle went by you could hear the very distinct noise of ice cracking ~ NOT a reassuring sound!

These are 2 examples of shelters with stovepipes. I didn't find anyone "home" in these so I'm not sure what the chimneys are attached to inside. You would think that something requiring such a pipe would create enough heat to melt the ice the hut is sitting on...wouldn't you? Interesting.

A lot of shacks had windows close to the ground, like these. The holes are cut along the window, allowing natural light and helping the fishermen to see what they are doing. Beats a flashlight, eh? Each shack also has an unique number on it ~ assigned from the administration office when the shelter is registered.

This shack is very similar to the first fisherman whom we visited. My camera battery was dying by then so I didn't take a picture of his hut but this will give you an idea of what the outside looked like.

This gentleman was kind enough to show us around his hut and to answer our questions. It was cold inside his shelter but not nearly as chilly as outside. The fish smell was too strong for my liking but no one else seemed to notice. He'd been fishing about 2 hours this particular day and was just threading his hook. There were three square holes cut into the floor.

Here's a closer look at the hole he was fishing from. Each evening the open water source freezes over and has to be rebroken before fishing. The thickness of the ice measured 16" the day we were there but for the fishing hole itself, only the surface freezes. While we were standing there he dropped his line into the hole you can see and within a minute caught a fish.

Here our host shows one of his bags of smelt he'd caught that day. Some of the fish were still alive but I didn't ask how long they survive out of the water and in the cold bag. He told us that these fish taste "sweet" and they debone very easily. I wrinkled my dainty little nose and thought of the grease-soaked fish and chips that I prefer.....

Once we said good-bye to him we found another fellow fishing. According to his buddy, this particular man is the top fisherman of the fishing derby for the last few years running. In this hut there was a small heater working and he'd been fishing for almost 2 hours and had the 2 bags of fish hanging on the right. When more than a bag of fish is caught the fish are shared among extended family. I gather 2 or 3 bags of fish is just too much for 2 people to eat. I told this fellow he certainly looked like a fisherman in cognito with his camouflage outfit on!

Perhaps this guy catches so many fish because of his bait? His buddy looked at his worms with disgust ~ these worms are dug up at low tide...and they have a mouthful of teeth and they bite ... he's holding a margarine tub with these worms from the shore. Geez doesn't that sound like fun? Walk out on the low tide muck ~ in the middle of freezing winter ~ to dig in cold, wet, mud for the privilege of pulling out worms that bite you.

The next 2 photos show the smaller sized shelters used for ice-fishing.

Then there's this freaky shack! There is just no way either son or I could fit in here! Maybe this is for kids? A very short adult??

This is son's favourite home because he loves frogs. The sign beside him reads, "Frog parking only. All others will be toad!"

This hut not only has a framed window BUT there are blinds on it!

I hope to get pictures of this place when the ice starts to melt. Of when these huts are sinking into the ice and the water is bubbling up through holes in the ice... I will definately get a zoom lens for that though as I'm not adventurous enough to risk a polar swim!


restyled home said...

I first tried smelt when I was pregnant with Grayson. For some strange reason, I got up the nerve, and discovered they are really tasty!!

Funny enough, I haven't eaten them since...!!!

Julie Marie said...

My husband does some crazy things but at least he doesn't ice fish. Here in ND they go out on the lakes in their vehicles. Sheer madness.

I went to a smelt fry long ago in Wales, ND. They were pretty good, actually.