Extreme Angling

Is the Catch Worth It?

By Jesse L. Ayers

After an unpleasant fishing trip on a frozen Lake Cascade two years ago, I was of the opinion that ice fishing should be categorized as an extreme sport and reserved for the most daring fishermen capable of enduring Idaho’s most challenging environments. I had no desire to be a participant in such a demanding test of my survival skills. From an early age I have been an avid fisherman: catching perch as a boy in a remote Missouri pond, catfishing on Oklahoma’s Grand Lake, running trotlines on southern Mississippi rivers, bass fishing in the weeds of Central Florida waterways, snapper fishing in the Gulf of Mexico, and saltwater fishing in the Atlantic. When I retired to Idaho, I learned to fly fish. Every day spent fishing was an enjoyable adventure—until my first ice fishing experience. So, when I was invited last December to go on a second such trip, I hesitated. After much thought, I decided to give it one more chance.

On my original ice fishing excursion, I had met the organizer and four other fishing enthusiasts at 6:00 a.m. in a parking lot on the outskirts of Boise. We convoyed to Cascade. I drove alone in the second of three vehicles. The temperature in the valley was in the low twenties, and a large deposit of snow covered the landscape along Highway 55, although the road had been plowed. Halfway to Cascade, we encountered sleet and an ice-covered road. After a two-hour drive in severe weather, Cascade greeted us with minus-fourteen degrees and a terrain covered in four feet of snow.

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