Kickass, the doorstop dog, joins the keeper in noting how the unusual winter weather has set up Wisconsin as an ice-fishing mecca; and as descended from a father who viewed the weird sport in religious terms, the keeper recalls with fond memories occasionally joining Dad and his friend Pete in their ritualistic activity. It was always a wonderous, cold day of routine and surprises:
*The stop at their pre-stoked minnow box at Rice Lake’s Red Cedar River–to buy expensive bait minnows would be unthinkable.
*The wooden poles frozen upright in ice holes to support the windbreak tarp.
*The hand-made metal stove with is flat top for frying hamburgers and onions to fill the cold air with the sweetest aroma imaginable.
*The thunk-thunk-thunk of the ice chisel in the pre-power auger days.
*The hours of huddling and gossiping around the stove. Once the keeper stood too close and a down-filled vest caught fire. Fortunately, Ron, a member of the Rice Lake Fire Department was part of the gang that day.
*The cry of “FLAG!” and the running and the careful fingering of the line to set the hook just right.
*The cheers and shouts at the sight of a northern or a walleye squirming on the ice.
*The ice fishing day was always too short, and now they are all too long ago, but in their way they are still around to be enjoyed as these words testify.