On the ice that day, Steven’s Egyptian friend was thinking outside the box.
Imagine you’re driving out on a frozen lake, up and over snow drifts, through two feet of snow, and during this drive the lake is cracking and sounds of thunder are echoing through the truck. Sounds exciting doesn’t it?
To the average ice fisherman this is a normal winter weekend experience but to someone who has never experienced it, this is outright craziness. Imagine using a power auger to then cut perfect holes through two feet of ice, water pouring up and over the hole, your winter pants freezing quickly. Then standing by these holes and dropping your line down hoping a fish will bite. Again this is exciting and normal to the average ice fisherman but to newbie’s at ice fishing panic steps in immediately. “We’re going to sink! We’re going to freeze, we’re going to DIE!!! These words regularly echo across the frozen lake.
Last year I had the opportunity to take out a group of ice fisherman, who incidentally all work for Cabelas Canada, and along for the ride was Mansur. Mansur was transferred from Calgary to Winnipeg to train for upper management at a new Cabelas location. Mansur is also originally from Egypt. As we all know, ice fishing in Egypt is not that popular as it doesn’t exist!
So imagine Mansur’s surprise when we drove off the nice, safe, gravel road and headed out onto the lake. He looked at me with total shock and said with broken English “Are we driving on the water?” “Why, yes we are, Mansur,” I replied.
Silence set in and he quickly tugged on his seatbelt to ensure it was on good and tight. “You are going to have to take that off now, Mansur. If we bust through the ice you do not want to get tangled in your seat belt!” I was half joking with him, but it is a very good safety precaution. Again Mansur’s eyes bugged out and he went white as a ghost.
After a quick 20-minute drive along the ice roads we were at our spot for the day. I quickly jumped out of the truck and started to drill holes through the ice.Then I set up the portable ice shacks and got the portable heaters going.
Mansur was still in the truck, peeking out the window. I think he was waiting for someone to fall through the ice. I assured him that it was safe and to come on out and join us.
Hesitantly Mansur opened the door and like a cat near water he gingerly walked over to the shack, looking back at the truck every few steps to make sure it hadn’t fallen through. Once in the ice shack he gave me another look of confusion. “You bring the fish up through that hole?” he asked. “Yes, Mansur. Here grab a rod and give it a try.”
It wasn’t long before he caught the first fish of the day. Now he didn’t catch it the way we would have. He was lying on the ground, holding just the line and jigging it frantically down the hole.
The reason Mansur was just holding onto the line was he had accidentally stepped on and broken one of my rods. While peering down the hole Mansur actually caught a fish. “You are kidding me!” I mumbled under my breath.
Now, to make matters worse, Mansur was catching one fish after another. Now Mansur was giving us advice . . .imagine that. My friend Ryan was getting quite frustrated and we all just about fell off our chairs with laughter as Mansur proceeded to tell us that he was also using pieces of hotdogs that we had fried up on the ice for lunch, tipped on the jigging spoon. “Sometimes you have to give them something different,” Mansur joked.
I learned a few things that day on the ice. One, it is a lot of fun introducing people to the sport of fishing. Two, always try something different when fishing. And three, always try to think outside the box.
Now if only I had a spot in my tackle box for wieners. Hmmmm.
Steven Wintemute is general manager at Pegasus Publications and publisher of Hooked magazine.