Phillips County News - One Nation, Under God

By Parker Heinlein
Outdoors columnist 

A cure for those old Winter Blues


February 14, 2018

I’m trying to embrace winter.

Relish it.

Greet each frosty morning with a smile.

It’s difficult.

At 20 below I don’t even want to go outside, let alone frolic in the snow.

I went ice fishing last week with a friend who truly enjoys this time of year. He showed up at the cabin with two snow machines, a power auger, and enough minnows and smelt to open a bait shop.

A Minnesota native of Scandinavian descent, Mike is hard-wired for the cold. He doesn’t seem to notice when the mercury takes a dive. He likes the ice. He actually appears to enjoy the groaning, booming sounds it makes when you’re out on it.

I find the same sounds terrifying, a precursor to break up which will surely lead to my watery death.

Until I started fishing with Mike, my ice fishing experience usually involved hours of monotony staring at a dark hole in the ice while I gradually grew colder and colder. The occasional small perch I caught seemed hardly worth it. A man of little patience, I’ve always thought I’d like ice fishing more if the action were faster or the fish were bigger.

Turns out that’s not quite the case.

Fishing with Mike, the action is often fast and furious, and I’m still not hooked. He even cut a hole in the ice near the cabin so I could stay inside and watch the tip-up through binoculars.

That’s what I was doing when the rod tip popped up – fish on!

I trotted down the hill to the lake and hurried out on the ice to the setup. The line was slack when I got there, but when I picked up the rod I could feel the fish. It made a couple of short runs and I soon had it at the hole, which began to look very small when I saw the size of the fish.

However, the big pike fits quite nicely, and as soon as the head cleared the water I reached under her gill plate and tossed the fish on the ice.

I’m still amazed that fish of such size can be landed on such tiny rods.

At just over 36 inches, the pike was the largest I‘d caught in a long time.

It was exciting enough that I forgot all about the cold and my irrational fear of an icy death.

There’s a month of winter left and I’m trying my best to enjoy it. I don’t want to be that guy who’s always complaining about the cold and snow.

I 'm trying. I really am.

Parker Heinlein is at


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