Ice Fishing in Minnesota

My friend Bailey moved to Minnesota a few years ago after college. After figuring out that I would have a day to explore the Twin Cities area in January, I had originally planned on doing typical sightseeing. Bailey suggested that we go ice fishing instead.

Ice fishing, the unofficial state sport of Minnesota, is basically fishing out of a hole cut out in the ice. This is how most people ice fish:

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Honestly, I am not a fan of fishing, so the thought of fishing while sitting on a frozen pond sounded less than enjoyable. That said, it must be at least somewhat fun if so many Minnesotans choose to go ice fishing.

Rather than sit out on the pond, for $100 Bailey reserved an Ice Palace-basically an RV on ice.

On Martin Luther King Day, Bailey and I set out for Lake Minnetonka, a large lake 30-ish minutes west of Minneapolis. There, we were met by Bailey’s boyfriend Alex, Bailey’s friend named Alex, that friend’s girlfriend named Alex, and Bailey’s other friend named Khalyani.

We drove onto the frozen lake.

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The ice was thick, but we could still hear and feel it crack underneath the weight of the car. The lake was dotted with RV’s. If the ice could support the RV’s the car was safe.

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The Ice Palace

One of the RV’s said Ice Palace and we walked in. It was super nice- we had a kitchen, heating, TV, and a camo-print bed. There also were 6 holes in the floor where there were holes in the ice. Pulleys with fishing lines were stationed above the holes.

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We were all ready to go, except none of us knew how to ice fish…so we called up the guy we rented from, Steve the ice fishing man. It took 15 minutes for him to wake up (who naps in their car at 10am??) but he eventually came over to the RV and taught us how to fish. He even leant us his underwater fish camera.

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Ice fishing is pretty simple: put bait on the fishing pulley then lower it to the depth where the fish live (usually 5-10 feet above the bottom of the lake) then wait until the line moves. This is even easier than normal fishing because you don’t have to hold the pole.

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You can also fish normally.

With nothing to do but wait for the fish to bite, we started drinking…at 10am. Around 11, Bailey heated up her buffalo chicken ranch dip- a South Dakota classic.

By 12, we still haven’t caught any fish, but we did see some big ones on our fish camera.  Steve the fish guy came back to say that nobody was catching any fish today because of the impending snowstorm- somehow that affects the fish’s behavior. Maybe fish have a good sense of barometric pressure changes.

We then played charades for 2 hours- Team Alex vs Team Not Alex. Still no fish.

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I then had to head to the airport to fly back to LA.

10 minutes after I left, they caught a fish. They named it Alex.

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Alex the fish

I really enjoyed my time ice fishing and would DEFINITELY do it again.

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