We bought two cardboard containers packed with 15 or 20 corn bores covered in loose black muck, at a farm five miles from where we turned off the black top, then drove another three miles along a gravel road, snow plowed high on both sides, past farmers fields barely visible stretched white to the gray horizon line, snow tornados rising and falling then rising and falling again and again.
We parked next to a mountain of snow plowed higher than the car. Hidden from sight a frozen desert of ice where, for the rest of the day we fished on an inland lake the shoreline a hundred yards from where we parked.
Through knee deep snow the Arctic wind gusting 25-30 mph against our backs we dragged our plywood ‘fish boxes’ to the shoreline then another quarter mile across the slippery surface.
He chopped five holes through the two foot thick ice (careful to angle each larger at the bottom so as not to be funnel shaped, impossible to pull a fish through) using a heavy iron spud rounded at one end, a leather strap at the other wrapped around his wrist to keep it from slipping into the black water when punched through the the last few inches of ice.
We spent the rest of the day fishing for bluegills (or pike if we were lucky) watching for the slightest movement of our bobbers, scooping films of ice that formed over the exposed water every few minutes, moving from hole to hole, watching for the red flags of the ‘tip ups’, sitting on our ‘fish boxes’, staring downward, hunched aerodynamically against the icy cold wind flowing over our backs.
You could hear the ice thunder and moan menacingly like an angry bear, as it grew thicker, ripping sounds heard in the distance or nearby, crackling for seconds at a time, jagged points of iced lightening suddenly etched close to where we sat, sending shivers of fear through me that the ice would open its jaws and swallow us into the inky black depths where not even the slightest ray of light could possibly exist.
Toward the end of day, the sun a vague halo of yellowish white against a dreary gray sky, we packed the poles and tip ups into our fish boxes, 20 or 30 bluegills frozen stiff at the bottom.
Faced downward, pushing against the north wind my toes and the tips of my fingers frozen numb, my face burning we trekked toward the shoreline, through thigh deep powdered snow, over the mountain, returning to the warmth of the car.
We drove through the dimming light of late afternoon into the dark sky of mid winter’s early evening night, arriving home just in time for dinner.