Coming from a more southern part of the country, I didn't grow up doing much ice fishing. Although the winters in Pennsylvania are cold, it can be rare for good ice to form. Maine, however, does not have that problem. Here lakes and ponds freeze to have multiple feet of ice over them. This allows for some pretty good ice fishing. Of course you have to reach the fishing spot. If you're lucky you may have a snow mobile or a four wheeler. If you don't? Snowshoes are always an option and a partial canoe you found snapped in half in the river during the summer works well to haul your gear across the snow and ice.
Now if you've never been ice fishing, there are a few things you need to know. It is cold. Well that's really pretty much all you need to know. The rest of the days desicions revolve around that concept (perhaps why most people stick to warm weather fishing). Layers of clothes are needed, along with hot coffee, and preferably a pot of moose stew going over a fire.
This particular day was no exception to the description above. I went out on the ice with a few good friends layered up and ready to go. After drilling our holes in the ice it was time to deploy the traps. Note: baiting a hook with a shiner is not a hard task...unless of course it is around zero degrees and you can't feel your fingers. Fortunately, after some pain in the extremeties the hooks were baited and the traps ready to spring.
Then comes the time to enjoy the stew, the coffee, the friendship...all the while scanning the horizon to see if any of the little orange flags have gone up. You glance out and all the sudden one of the flags have sprung into the air! What follows next is the frantic scramble (across ice mind you) to reach the hole. Then you hunker down, slowly retrieving your line until you feel it tense up and you can set the hook (reference numb fingers above). After that its a hand line capture of a fish, which is a cool change of pace from a spinner rod. Sometimes they shake off the hook, sometimes you catch what your after, and sometimes you don't. The rush of the unknown and catching a fish is still there though no matter what the outcome.