Fishing the Ice: Adjusting to Life in My Hometown

(Following is my column, which appeared in the Tues., Jan. 29th edition of the Devils Lake Journal where I am a reporter/writer. For more info about my hometown of Devils Lake, North Dakota, visit

Fast Eddie/Pops used to take my sis Julie and I fishing when we were little girls. He didn’t yet have any little boys to take fishing, but I like to think he would of taken us anyway. His buddies would fish with us too, or maybe it was the other way around – my sis and I fishing with him and his buddies. Family friend Don D. still likes to tell a fishing tale some 40 plus years later about my sister accidentally, after being buzzed by a bee, throwing my Dad’s brand spankin’ new fishing rod into the water! I actually don’t recall the incident, but I’m sure it’s true because my sis always was a bit of a troublemaker. What I remember most about those fishing trips is being squeamish about the worms or leeches or whatever creepy crawlies we used as bait, which maybe explains why I am to this day such a bugaphob.

I don’t recall ice fishing with Fast Eddie and his pals, but I do remember going ice fishing with my Grandpa Jager. Although I enjoyed being with my Grandpa I remember thinking it was kind of boring compared to warm weather fishing. I can’t remember if he had an ice house or not, but I remember going ice fishing with some guy pals who did. If my memory serves me right there seemed to be a lot more beer drinking and card playing than fishing! Last weekend was the 29th annual Devils Lake Volunteer Ice Fishing Tournament. This tournament wasn’t held when I was growing up here. From what I’m told its a very popular annual event, drawing about 5,000 fishermen. That’s quite a draw for a town of some 7,000. Last week I was looking at pics in the paper from last year’s tournament when an ad caught my eye advertising minnow races at a local watering hole. Minnow races? I’ve never heard of such a thing. How does that work? I picture a bunch of minnows being labeled somehow in a bag with rowdy bar patrons placing their bets on the wiggliest minnows. Then they all get dumped on the counter and race toward the end.

ice fishing 7That’s probably not how it works, but it’s fun to imagine how it might! Over the weekend, my sister-in-law and teacher enlightened me about minnow racing, and it’s really nothing like my vivid imagination pictured! I didn’t attend the weekend fishing tournament, however, I saw lots of photos and it looked like a phenomenal tournout. Since I am trying to embrace winter, maybe I should give ice fishing another shot all these years later! I’ve heard ice houses are not as rustic as they used to be and some are actually quite fancy.

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