It never dawned on me that some people would not know what a fish house was, until someone e-mailed me asking what this was. Obviously, many of you wisely live where the water doesn't freeze, so you would have no way of knowing about such a thing. A fish house is a small house used for fishing on the ice. Think outhouse...only a little bigger. There are openings in the floor, that are used to fish through. An ice auger is used to cut the holes in the ice. Most use some kind of heater to heat the inside of the fish house, so it’s much warmer than if you were to just cut a hole and sit outside. And no, the heater does not melt the ice. Of course there are the die hard fisherman who brave the cold and will be sitting out on the lake in the cold and wind all through the winter. That would NOT be me. When you’re sitting in one with a heater, it’s warm enough to take off your coat though and really it’s not bad.
I live in the land of many lakes, or I should say, I live in the land of frozen lakes and fish house heaven. Fishing is big here and so are fish houses which come in different sizes and vary in quality. Most are your basic fish houses but many have luxuries, such as beds, TV’s, and little kitchen set up’s. Many people build their own but you can also buy commercially made one’s which can be very elite and big. Seriously, some people have fish houses that are nicer then some cabins. To put a fish house out on the ice you have to buy a license for the house and to fish you need a license too.
Ice needs to be a certain thickness before it’s safe to walk out on and fish, so at first you will see a lot of people out fishing in the open. As the water freezes, it actually makes a growling noise, which to be honest, scared the crap out of me when I was little. The other day, on our way home from the parade, we stopped at a lake and walked out to talk to some people fishing and it was making that noise. Once the ice is thick enough, the fish houses come out. By the middle of winter, people will drive out on the lake in their big trucks. Yes, every year vehicles go through the ice because some people just aren't very smart or careful.
Something you need to understand about ice fishing, is that people are not just fishing in their fish houses. Out on the lake, it’s like they have their own little communities…they drink, play cards, shake dice, drink, talk to other fisherman, grill food, eat, watch tv, did I say drink? Although beer is always a year round drink of choice around here, winter is the time, that hot drinks tend to come out and I am not talking coffee or hot chocolate, unless of course there is Peppermint Snapps added to it. It is a social event out on the ice. I know guys that go out to their fish houses in the winter to get away. They can say they are going fishing and they do fish but they often times are doing other things as well. I remember going with my father and although he caught a lot of fish, he also played a lot of poker, did a lot of talking and drank some beers. I must add that there are a lot of women that like to ice fish too, so it’s not just a guy thing.
Fishing contests are held on lakes all through the winter and many people travel all over, just to partake in these contests. No fish houses are used for these, so it’s all out in the open. Yes, it’s cold. They are very competitive and some people take them very serious. It is actually quite hilarious to watch people running across the ice, while carrying a fish, to reach the judging, weigh station first. Not only do they give away great prizes but it is a big social event or I should say party. The last ice fishing contest I went to, there were over 2,000 people and it was 10 below 0. Yes, I froze but it really is a good time.
On a side note, we also use the ice for skating, hockey, and broom ball (similar to hockey but with a broom that’s been taped up and a ball). There are some lakes that host softball and golf tournaments on the ice each winter, which my son has participated in. We also have this thing called the polar dip, in which people will go in a sauna and then jump in a hole that's been cut in a lake. Crazy. As you see, we have lots to keep us busy on the ice, if we don't mind being cold. And this doesn't even get into all the things we do in the snow...I'll save that for another day.
So, to those of you that were wondering, after yesterday’s post about the fish house parade we attended, what a fish house is, I hope I have answered your questions well enough. To those of you that would like to go ice fishing(or one of our other ice activities...polar dip anyone?) here in the land of frozen lakes, I would be more than happy to take you or least find someone to take you…lol! Just let me know!