I sold my ice auger years ago in a garage sale.  Fly fisherman don't need augers.  They're much too smart to stupidly stare at a hole in the ice.  But, winter fly fishing can be a challenge, especially when it's blowing like hell on your favorite creek.  Unfortunately, lack of fishing predisposes a fly fisherman to stupidity.

What to do?  Well, with minimal effort I could saunter over to the pond.  Heck, it's only a couple of hundred yards from our doorstep, and, it's frozen.  For the record, I haven't ice fished since Prince partied like it was 1999.

Somewhere in the garage is the ice fishing gear.  I find the box containing old stubby rods, one with a reel duct taped to it's handle.  There's a couple of ice skimmers, rod holders for propping the rod over the hole in the ice, and, for keeping the whole outfit from being drug into said hole by some unsuspecting whopper.  There's also a small four compartment tackle box. It contains tiny jigs with the crusted remains of long defunct maggots.  There are also a few home made jigs with rotted rubber legs, some hooks, split shot, and, for the purists, "indicators".  Talk about minimalism.  I'd never make it through a PMD hatch with this stuff.

Next, it's out to the shed.  I never pass up the opportunity to practice expletives while tripping over untold amounts of yard equipment.  Alas, my swearing is rewarded.  I find an old pry bar.  It will serve as a spud to chop through new ice on holes previously augered by other anglers.

And then, just to show that I'm serious about this venture, I head to the sporting goods store and buy some maggots.

Ok, now that I'm properly armed, I saunter.  Arriving at the pond, I survey its frozen surface and note the spoor of previous ice anglers.  Circular piles of ice shavings dot the pond.  I pick an inviting spot, spud out a hole, flip my bucket over and cover it with one of those squishy pads that warms the butt.  Now this is living!.

Time to do a little business.  I impale a fresh, circa 2019 maggot onto a jig and drop it into the hole.  The bobber settles and rests peacefully.  I'm proud of myself.  I've achieved a drag free drift.

I stare at the bobber.  I know why I don't nymph.  Time to start fidgeting.  I shift the weight from one butt cheek to the other, then back again.   I feel like Ray Charles, ice fishing.

It's time for action.  Time to jig. So, I jig and wait.  Jig and wait.  Repeatedly.

The bobber twitches, barely.  I lift.


After a few moments, another barely perceptible twitch.  I lift, and, with the barest of resistance, pull a three inch perch through the hole.

An hour later I've got a few more small perch to show.  Then, as the sun sets, the bobber dips spiritedly.  Moments later, I haul out a creditable brook trout.   Well now, that's something.  Quite pleased, I slide the fish back into the hole and call it a day.

It's been a productive outing.  I got out of the house.  I got a little exercise, some fresh air, and even a few fish.  Heck, I didn't even burn any gas.

And, just to show that I haven't lost my fly fishing touch, I got a wind knot.


  1. Funny stuff. But those perch are quite tasty! Merry Christmas. We're on the downhill slide to summer!

  2. Merry Christmas Jim. Im trying to sort out some technical difficulties in trying to reply to my own blog. The workaround has been to have comments show up as a pop up window with all of the attendant crapola.

    Regardless, those perch are tasty, but, have you ever tried to filet a three incher?

    I'm looking forward to summer too. So many waters and hatches to hit.

    I did get a few surface eats over the weekend. It was tough sledding, having to deal with the wind and all, but I got in a few casts between gusts and the fish obliged.

    Other than that my winter project has been to learn to tie no hackle dries. After a dozen or so attempts Ive managed a few reasonably acceptable ties. They're not as pretty as a Lawson or Harrop version. But,I think that they'll look better with practice. Hopefully the fish will find them tasty. Regards.....

  3. Lester
    For someone who has never ice fished this post got my attention. I noticed you mentioned the butt warmer what about the hand and face warmers? As I get older the cold really works on the body and that's down here in the south where it's not supposed to get below freezing most of the winter months. Glad you accomplished your objective, leave the recliner and trade it for an outdoor seat!! Enjoyed the post thanks for sharing

  4. Hi Bill, it was warm enough that a hat and gloves were all that I needed. Most of the time I fished with gloves off. My bod stiffens up pretty quick too when it gets cold, that's why I wait for forty degree days to fly fish. As for the recliner, if I were a Minnesotan, I'd have it out on the ice (along with a cooler of beer). But then, they're a hell of a lot tougher than I am.

  5. A dangerously entertaining read, Les. Almost made me want to buy some filling-station maggots & go twitching through the ice but, for now, I'll stick to reading of it by the fireside.

  6. Thanks for checking in Walt. Fireside reading about any fishing (well, most any) is a worthy pastime on most winter days. I don't think that the subject of ice fishing will top the charts of action/adventure reads. That is of course, unless one includes Grumpy Old Men!


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