Kokomo Tribune; Kokomo, Indiana

Sports

February 2, 2014

MARTINO: Think safety first when on ice

Spud bars are invaluable when ice fishing

The sound of a hand auger resonated through the solid ice as it chewed its way through the lake’s recently frozen surface. Dressed in their warmest attire, people stood over holes holding short fishing rods. It is a scene played over and over this year.

As far as winters go, this one has been a dandy. The previous two years offered little for those who enjoy coaxing tasty fish from small holes cut in the ice. But this season has thankfully offered ample opportunities.

“It sure beats sitting at home,” a friend said as he threw a flopping bluegill on the ice.

On this particular day, several of us hit three different lakes in a single day. It would be hard lasting the winter months without feeling that familiar tug on the end of your line. It’s also fun feeling the snow crunching under your feet as you walk over the water’s hard surface, imagining hungry bluegills, crappies and walleyes lurking right under your feet. And when you do encounter success, few things please the palate like fresh panfish hoisted from icy cold waters.

Obviously winter weather patterns play a huge role in the amount of time we have suitable, safe ice. Ice fishing opportunities vary from year to year. There have been some seasons when ice anglers barely had several weeks to ply frozen surfaces. It looks like this year we are in for a long run.

Over the past three weeks I have had the opportunity to make numerous trips to many different bodies of water, sharing fellowship with a good number of people. Old friendships were reaffirmed and new ones created.

“You know, I’ve read several different articles on ice fishing safety, but no one ever mentions that,” said Paul Youngdale, as he watched me place the long, steel rod back into my sled.

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