Drilling for fish

The parade of ice fishing shacks made their way off the river last week in a solemn procession. They were in various stages of deconstruction dependent on how badly they were frozen in prior to the trek.

But this is not the end of the ice fishing season. With some bright sunny weather and several feet of ice left on area waterways, there is a steady snarl of snow machines heading out to try their luck. At the Debating Table at the Bakery in Rainy River the volume of information is unbelievable… in more ways than one.

With this past winter’s heavy snow and lots of slush on the ice the sleds have been put through some gruelling paces. Breakdowns are rampant, as are accidents. Petr Pyechuck has dedicated many hours to rebuilding the hood on his sled after a dispute with a poplar stump. Fiberglass, pop rivets, duct tape and about one hundred hours of labour was the solution as a replacement hood does not exist.

The repair lasted one ride when Pickle stopped and Petr did not.

The second rebuild relied mainly on zip ties

But the fishing is so good every patched up sled loaded to the nines with equipment has been racing out onto the ice in pursuit of that dream catch. A critical item in the kit has been an ice auger. The conversation went this way at the Debating Table when Spiker showed up with his arm in a sling and a noticeable limp.

“Man that ice is thick! Used up the full length of the main auger and the extension,” he exclaimed as he gingerly raised his cup for a slurp of hi-test.

“And dangerous. I was using my hi-powered portable drill and when the auger jammed, it ripped the drill handle out of my grip, swung around whacked me on the wrist and then whacked me on the shin before I could get out of the way,” said Spiker easing his leg into a more comfortable position.

“A run-away ice auger? Why didn’t it stop when your hand came off the trigger?” I wondered aloud ever eager to get the facts accurately.

“Oh I had the trigger locked down so I could concentrate on holding on,” stated Spiker as he rubbed his wrist.

“But it stopped by itself when it finally broke through the ice. But then when I pulled it out of the hole I found the shaft had fallen out of the chuck, so lost my auger… but the drill is fine,” he concluded holding out his cup for a refill.

“So that’s it for ice fishing for this year?” I queried.

“Oh no. Everyone in the gang brings an auger. They’ll spot me a hole or two. Accidents… er, I mean equipment failures do happen,” Spiker explained as all the heads around the table nodded in agreement.