Thanks for joining the adventure, and tight lines.
I've been patiently watching the local bodies of water over the last seven days, looking to see if and when there'd be safe, fishable ice in the neighborhood. I started to thoroughly enjoy ice fishing last year, and this year I'm hoping to take it to another level and catch some big fish through the ice. I also intend to start selectively keeping perch, bluegills, and crappie. I don't do this much in the summer because most of my local fishing travel is done via bike, and I like to be out for hours. Not the best scenario for bringing fish home to eat. But with cold weather I can carry fish on my person much more readily. Basically, I've been very much looking forward to this ice season, which has never been the case any other year I'd ever fished.
Today I found safe ice. It was beautiful, strong, clear ice well above my comfortability minimum 2 1/2". I am a tall and scrawny person, I weigh a lot less than average. For anybody else I wouldn't advocate anything less 3", as is the generally accepted safe thickness for a single person. What I didn't find were willing bass or bluegills. I also couldn't get to where I was sure they'd be because it was surrounded by sketchy ice were plants were through the surface. Always avoid these areas when the ice is new and less the 5 inches, the plants absorb heat and today it took one hit with the hatchet I was using to cut holes to break through that stuff... put both feet on that stuff and you're going in even though right next to it is perfectly safe ice. This is why carrying a spud bar and knowing how to use it really is smart if you are a beginner like myself.
You may be noticing the bulk of the text so far in this post has nothing to do with the title. Now is where I get to that. I wasn't sure I'd find safe ice, so I came prepared with a backup plan. Or at least I thought I came prepared. There are a fair number of brook trout streams in close proximity to the places I was checking, if I failed to find sacatch any fish through the ice I could switch gears and go for brook trout. When it became clear I wasn't going to be getting my first fish of the season on the hard water I payed a visit to a particularly small brook trout stream on the way home. I hiked into the ravine and began rigging up only to find that I had left the reel at home. Without skipping a beat I pulled 7 feet of line off my spinning reel, tied it to the tip of my rod, stuck a jig style Green Weenie on the end, and went about fishing with very little concern as to how well it would work. You see, I've done this before intentionally to see how far I could "dumb down" my gear. I've used a trimmed maple sappling to fish a small stream before. I've also learned to cast a fly line without use of a rod, just carrying a reel in my pocket and using my arm to shoot the line into tight spots. I caught brook trout doing so. And did I catch fish today using a 7' 4lb mono leader clinched to the tip of my 3wt?
Of course I did.
And that's that.
Keep things right at the edge of being stupidly simple.