Remember Thanksgiving weekend? Sure you do. The snow came down like a pillow fight gone awry and settled in layers that taxed even the strongest of shovelers, snowblowers and plows. Still, as much as we northlanders grumbled about the wintery blast and cringed upon hearing from our snowbird family/friends augured in the Southern climes how the temps had “plunged” under 60 degrees, there are always those sometimes annoying, but always positive-thinking people who exclaimed with childlike joy, “I love it! It’s like an incredible snow globe!”
Snow globes, of course, remind many of us of more innocent times when “oohs and aahs” were aired over the simple lightbulb-like glass with a Norman Rockwell winter setting enclosed. To be more specific, according to Wikipedia the snow globe, also called a “water globe” or “snowdome,” is a transparent sphere, traditionally made of glass, enclosing a miniaturized winter scene of some sort. The sphere actually has water in the globe that serves as the medium through which the “snow” falls.
To activate the snow, the globe is shaken to churn up the white particles and then is placed back in its position as the flakes slowly fall down through the water. Some snow globes even have built-in music boxes that play songs. Those of you from the ‘60s and ‘70s, of course, know that back then “Lara’s (Julie Christie) Theme” (“Somewhere My Love”) from the 1965 film “Doctor Zhivago” was an incredibly popular song that musically accompanied many snow globes. Soon afterward, American top-charting female vocalist of the late 1950s and ‘60s, Connie Francis (Concetta Rosa Maria Franconero), and the very popular Ray Conniff Singers also put the song into the hearts and minds of American music listeners.
Even though this little snowflake dome might now be classified as “not so wow” what with our current “necessities” of pads, phones and games, put one in a youngster’s hands and watch the wonder begin. In this respect, it’s also reassuring to know things like slowly sinking bobbers or heavenly twinkling lights on a Christmas tree still hold a higher hand.
For many weeks now “like sand through an hour glass” (from the opening of the iconic soap opera “Days of our Lives”) as the weather pages have slowly turned and fall magic has now become but a wonderful memory, we here in northern Minnesota have been looking forward to “walking on water.”
Speaking of this “walking on water,” the story of how a family member who while in the armed services had won money from the “deep South” boys when he bragged about how back home in Minnesota they were so Paul Bunyanesque they could walk on water never gets old. The winning proof, as you might have expected, was a picture of him walking on ice (“hard water”). Even though this freaked them out, what really put them over the edge was the car in the background. Because many of us will soon be trekking out on our first hard water fishing trips of the year, here are a few things to keep in mind before venturing out on early ice.
Always remember even though first ice is nice, safety is paramount (actually, ice is never completely safe). Ice conditions will vary on lakes and even bays on lakes and that shallow water lakes freeze over earlier and will feature good ice much sooner than other deeper lakes. Therefore, when looking for early ice to fish or spear, think smaller lakes and shallower water. Be extra cautious, however, as even though as of late the temps have been frigid, the heavy snowfall has insulated the ice cap, resulting in not so good ice and the dreaded slush.
When going out hard water walleye/panfish fishing anywhere, consider also tip-up fishing for northern pike. Locating structure close to the shorelines will save you from walking long distances on unsafe ice. When fishing tip-ups, look for shallow water breaklines close to shore and underwater points leading out from shore where the ice is thicker and you can more easily access transition points to deeper water. To hit panfish gold, search out back-bays where panfish might still be hanging on the shallow water edges and weed lines.
For early ice ventures, travel light, wear a floatation jacket (available in ice fishing styles), carry ice picks, wear ice cleats and if you can, always travel with a buddy. Also, load your sled with the “bare necessities” (whoa, “Baloo in “The Jungle Book”).
To facilitate travelling lightly, utilizing hub, tent-style or small flip-over portable shelters might also be a good idea, considering their simplicity and lightweight. If you can tough out the elements, the ticket actually might be to sit on a bucket and only bring enough gear for a few hours of fishing. Keep in mind that walking is for sure the safest way on and off early ice.
As Christmas nears, think about the lyrics for “Somewhere My Love” (music from the lyric-less song “Lara’s Theme” in “Doctor Zhivago”): “There will always be songs to sing and dreams your heart can hold.” We will leave you with one of our favorite quotes from Robert Fulgham’s book, “All I Really Need to Know I Learned in Kindergarten: Uncommon Thoughts on Common Things”: “I believe imagination is stronger than knowledge. That myth is more potent than history. That dreams are more powerful than facts. That hope always triumphs over experience. That laughter is the only cure for grief.” To which he adds, “It doesn’t matter what you say or you believe - it only matters what you do.”
Nik and Rod Dimich are on Ray’s Sport & Marines’ pro staff and Rod is a pro-staffer for L&M Supply. To contact Dimich Outdoors, please email: firstname.lastname@example.org. Kristin Dimich contributes to this column.