By Stacey Sutherlin
With the hard water and the cold temps moving in I was determined to give ice fishing a try!
Having never fished hard water before meant I had my work cut out for me. Being new to the area was not going to help much either. I first needed to learn about ice fishing here on Alaska’s Kenai Peninsula which would entail learning about the gear needed, the best methods for fish species, lakes to fish and the local fishing regulations.
I dove straight in and began researching everything I could online, I asked for advice from friends that live in different states that ice fish and I found a local Facebook forum here on the Peninsula where I could also seek advice.
One thing is for sure people aren’t always up for offering helpful advice, I am not sure if it’s the fact I am a female, because I am new to the area, tackling this alone or simply because they don’t want to share their fishing spots, but I didn’t let it slow me down.
With my gear gathered, and my mind full of knowledge, I set out for a day of ice fishing. I truly didn’t know what to expect. In all honesty, I was roughing it compared to others. I didn’t have an ice tent, a buddy heater or a fish finder by choice. I wanted to tackle this new adventure to see if it was truly something I would enjoy before I invested in the fancy gear that would keep me comfortable and aid in my success.
What I did have was what I needed to get me started along with my determination. I was bundled up and I set out to a lake I knew some people from the local Facebook forum were fishing that day. I hadn’t personally met these people before, but I figured what better way to meet people in the area and learn the ropes.
I parked my truck at the boat launch, unloaded my gear and pulled it out to the area where people were fishing. I introduced myself and then quickly began to get set up to drill my ice hole. With my manual auger in hand, I was interrupted by one of the gentlemen out there who kindly offered to use his gas-powered auger to drill my hole and I wasn’t going to say no.
Soon after I was fishing. One guy asked me what I was using for bait and I said I was using what is called a paddle bug, specifically a Glo one.
He kindly replied, “I’ve never had luck with those, but they could work.”
After investigating what everyone else was using I found out that my method was a bit different, but I had done my research and asked questions. I instantly thought to myself, “You’re going to have to visit the local Sportsman’s Warehouse and get all new gear and bait to be successful.” But I didn’t let it get me down.
The sun rose that morning and it was stunning over the lake with the snowcapped mountains in the background. I stood there next to my hole jigging and taking in the beauty that surrounded me. About 50 yards away a nice rainbow was caught and that got me pumped! I love seeing fish caught; mine or not, it’s exciting.
Just when I least expected it I had a bite! From the lack of fight, I felt I assumed I had a small fish on; nonetheless, I was excited! This was going to be my first fish on the hard water and only my second time out ice fishing.
The fish came right up through my ice hole and I was in complete shock! It was a whopper of a rainbow trout measuring 18 inches. My excitement wasn’t missed. I was yelling with enthusiasm as this was what I least expected. I was honestly in shock to be blessed with such a beautiful trout. The reward of the work I put into something I truly knew nothing about paid off.
Later on, once home and settled, I shared on the local Facebook forum my exciting success of the day with the locals. One of the others out fishing the same lake that day was a kind lady who reached out to me with this statement, “It was nice meeting you, I had a great time watching you catch your fish. Your enthusiasm was inspiring, I hope that you catch many more, it’s always nice to see other ladies fish and catch.”
Ladies, honestly anyone, if you have the determination to try something new you will succeed. Success doesn’t always mean you will catch a fish, but rather try something new and give it your all, That led to my success of the day, but in the end I was extra blessed. Get out there, try the things you want to try, learn something new and enjoy it!
I fully believe if you have something you want to conquer, you can! It is important you do your research and gain knowledge before hitting the field in any scenario. I do not recommend if you have never ice fished before to just go out and do it without doing the proper research for your safety.