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You know in life, things are not always what a person expects but time after time I have been shown that even if things are not what I expected, often I can still make the most out of it and have fun.
I had seen it on TV before and so I expected that it usually consisted of only men. I also thought that these were the kind old men with facial hair covering their wrinkles and they would wear lots and lots of clothing. They would be sitting around on cheap old lawn chairs drinking beer as their fishing poles hung over a freshly broken hole in a thick blanket of ice. They would sit around and talk as the patiently waited for a fish to not bite their line.
This is how I always imagined ice fishing and well, one part of this image did come true. I set around patiently for a fish to not bite my line over a hole I recently smashed in the ice. :-) In fact, I was not surrounded by old white men with thick beards but thousands of Koreans of all ages including men, women, grandmas, grandpas and of course, the children. We were all about a meter apart from each other and I often wondered how could anyone catch a fish in this environment. I thought it would be easier to snag one in the side with a hook than to get the fish to bite my bait and reel it in as I had always been taught by my dad growing up in Oklahoma.
But I did see people in the distance holding fish and catching fish and so I waited patiently. Obviously, this river or section there of had been stocked. This did not seem impossible to me to be managed even though it would take some serious engineering logistics. The task of stocking the river with trout could not had been anymore difficult than the much larger feat of getting the river to freeze over. See, this section of the river that I was on and only this section was frozen over with ice. The rest of the river, both ahead and behind this 600 meter strectch, was just running water, as it normally should have been.
I was at an ice fishing festival and what more could I expect then artificially made ice and stocked fish. So, later on when a couple people I saw caught fish and I went closer to examine, I was not surprised that their method for catching this fish was artificial too. Yep, they hooked them in the side instead of getting them to bite the lure. I should have known better!
About this same time, I saw men walking around with an ice chest full of fish. They were actually taking them out of the ice chest, putting them on other people’s hooks, and then charging for pictures. All the people like me, I guess who didn’t catch anything, could buy a fish for their prize ice fishing trip photo. Hmmm, about this time I quit fishing.
Needless to say after I quit fishing, I started to enjoy other activities in different sections at the festival. I watched the kids ice skate, the parents pull there kids in sleds, I watched other kids play on the ice, and I watched kids play on ice sculptures and walk through the ice cave. I actually watched the kids play a lot I guess.
All in all, it was a fun day trip and worth it, if only for the experience alone but there was one highlight that truly stands out as pretty cool. During the day, I hung out with some new friends that had been given some fish. I think the trout they had was even given by somebody else who wanted the picture and then after the picture did not know what to do with them so the fish were just given away. Lucky for me, the girls who received the fish did not know how to cook them so I stepped up to the challenge. We took the fish to a “cooking area” and wrapped them in foil to then cooked them on the open fire.
Mmmm, I don’t have to tell you these fish were delicious. Freshly harvested trout from the river, cooked on a wood fire with a little bit of spice were definitely the highlight of the day. I savored each bite of their soft and tender morsels. Yes, I have had a strict vegetarian past. And yes, I felt bad and well, I honestly hope I don’t ever do it again for all the reasons that I like being a vegetarian but in the moment, I definitely enjoyed myself.
Anyway, I hope everyone is well, and if your ice fishing trip is more authentic but just as fun as mine.