by Jon Hedin (staff writer)
I woke up to my wife given me a rib shot with her elbow, and the alarm clock was screaming. It was three o'clock in the morning and I knew I had to wake up. Rick and Bob would be over soon. We were going ice fishing up around Brainerd, Minnesota, and we wanted to get an early start. The temperature was 10 below zero and it was the third weekend in January.
No one talked much on the four hour drive. We all knew how much work was in store for us. First was the drive, dodging deer and trying to stay out of the ditch with all the icy roads. Second, when we got off the highway, we had to go about six miles on a logging road with at least a foot of new snow on it. After checking out every trail there was we finally found the right one. We unloaded the snowmobile and loaded up the sled then started down another three mile trail.
Everything was going great until we could see the lake. Then we started getting stuck, and as soon as we freed ourselves, we'd go another ten feet and get stuck again. This was getting real old, but finally we reached the edge of the lake. I got on the snowmobile and cruised, went about 50 feet and sank through the ice! I thought about jumping off but I guess I was so shocked that I just stayed on for the ride. The snowmobile settled in six feet of water and mud. I turned around and Bob was running toward me yelling something about his sled. He just about made it to me but he crashed through the ice. Rick, who doesn't swim, slowly backed away from us.
So here we are, Bob and I, wet up to our chests and freezing quick. The snowmobile under six feet of water, and a long way to go to get back to the Jeep. I guess if we were going to panic, now would have been a good time. Thank God for things that come in pint-sized bottles.
It was either set-up the shack and try to dry off or get the sled out and get back to the truck before we froze. We chose the latter. We got a rope around the front skis and managed to get the snowmobile out of the water. Bob pulled the spark plugs out and dried them off. About 50 pulls later the motor fired and we were on the way back out. By the time we got back both Bob and I were froze up solid. We kind of rolled off the sled and into the jeep and headed straight for the local laundry so we could dry our snowmobile suits and hopefully get a line wet yet today. We spent the rest of the day fishing right off the main highway. I think we ended up catching two perch all day.
On the way back the next day we tried to think of something good about our weekend, but no one could. We actually talked about never leaving the comforts of home again, especially in the winter. But as they were dropping me off we were already talking about another hidden lake in northern Wisconsin. So I guess you have to shake the dice now and then, sometimes you win and sometimes you should have fished somewhere else.