An ice fishing outing from . . .

This past Saturday, a few buddies and I made some plans for a day of ice fishing in Sunset Country.
In case you forgot, Saturday was the day we got another foot of snow to add to the big pile we already had on the ground. It was pretty much an all-day blizzard that started the minute we fired up our snowmachines in the morning.
I should have stayed home.
Along for this trip were regular fishing buddies Dave Bennett from Sioux Narrows, Scott Dingwall from Dryden, and Matt Basaraba from Fort Frances. Our mission was about a 10-mile snowmachine ride into a small lake for crappies.
The trip started off fine. We had some portable houses that we were towing behind our snowmachines, which included all of are fishing gear.
For the first part of the trip, we had a decent trail we could ride on and experienced no problems. But the last mile or so before we were to portage into the lake where we would fish, we had to break our own trail and this was the start of the problems I was going to encounter on this outing.
With Bennett out in front breaking trail, the rest of us followed—throttles pinned as we hit a massive slush spot buried by the snow.
Dingwall and Basaraba made it through the slush but I was not so fortunate. After an hour or so of heavy lifting and pushing, we got my machine back up and running. But my feet were soaked and my pants were frozen—making it a workout to even walk!
At least I had a day of fishing ahead of me to look forward to.
When we got to the portage, we had to make it up a big hill and then it was smooth sailing to get to where we wanted to fish. Again, I squeezed the throttle and my machine gave all it had to make it up the hill.
I cruised up with ease (surprisingly) but at the top, I had to make a turn to stay on the trail. As I leaned into the turn, my machine came to an instant halt. I had smoked a cut log that was about a foot in diameter and buried in the snow.
This broke the tie-rod end that allows a person to steer their machine, so now I was just about at the top of a big hill without
any steering.
I am lucky my friends are handy and came more prepared than me. We found some trapping wire in Basaraba’s rig and Bennett was able to use it, along with some duct tape, to re-attach the steering rod to the ski tight enough that I would be able to limp it home.
Once it was fixed, we parked my sled and I caught a ride with the crew to the fishing spot.
Apparently crappies don’t bite very good in blizzard conditions. It was downright nasty outside, so we basically drilled holes in the general area and set up our shelters. We fished for a couple of hours and caught eight crappies, but decided we had better start moving if we were going to make it out before it got dark.
The snow was even worse than when we started fishing, visibility was literally about 100 yards. It was crazy. Had we drilled a bunch of holes and moved around, we likely would have caught a few more fish, but we were all already cold and wet.
When I got back to my machine, it fired up and I got it moving. I hit the big slush hole as fast as I could and nearly made it, but was held up by a three-foot pile of wet snow that built up in front of my machine.
After another session of lifting and pushing, we got it moving and on the trail. We finally got back to the home base at dark—all of us tired, cold, and wet.
My buddies decided to give me the nickname “sledhead” at the end of the day, which is fair enough, I suppose.
Again, I should have stayed home!

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