Sub Zero Ice Fishing in the Suburban Midwest
WOW cold enough for you? Here in the Chicago area we are no strangers to cold weather or winter or really good beef sandwiches. Jason Darkstar and I both took the day off for fishing. What an awesome plan for a Monday in January right? There was only one problem, it decided to be well below zero with booger freezing wind chills. With schools cancelled and life at a stand still it was decided we would venture out in the afternoon.
I had a ton of layers on as I got out of the van, I was not pleased with the constant 20 mph winds burning my eyes because that was the only thing I had uncovered. Another DA member Crankin King showed up to fish with us and helped me fight my shelter as I screwed in my new Eskimo ice anchors, which I must say after using some of the earliest designs of anchors, work awesome.
Once DS and I were barricaded in our shelters the fish started coming in at a steady pace. Nice fat gills and bass, some on jigs and Maggies and others on dead sticks with minnows.
Funny things happen in this kind of cold. We Midwest guys are used to cold temps, but in the Chicago area double digit below zero temps and high winds are not the norm. The first thing I noticed was the iron bear claw ice cleats I have had for years have a tendency to loosen and fall off. After drilling my holes I look down at my boots and cleats and they are completely encased in ice! I didn’t have to worry about them falling off! I had a lantern and a heater running. When I stood up there was no frost from my breath however as I bent down for anything I smoked like a steam engine. My ice holes steamed like mini hot tubs (that’s new I thought). Ice formed on my lines as if I was not even in a shelter. I switched rods and five minutes later went back to the rod I had before, the spikes were frozen solid. As the sun set my propane tank and lantern were starting to ice up on any exposed metal. IT WAS TIME TO GO!!! Pulling my sled back to my van the cold air burned my lungs and I had to stop twice to get my breath and heart rate down when in most cases I would not need to stop to rest and would have gotten to my vehicle in half the time.
Did I catch fish, hell yeah! Should I have been out there, hell no! Will I do it again some day when the feel of the cold has faded in my mind, probably?