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Around this time of year the sun typically sets before my work day is over. Unfortunately that means my fishing expeditions are reserved for daylight hours during the weekend. That doesn’t have to be there case though. If you are a hardcore ice angler, spending the night on your favorite lake has definitely crossed your mind. Combining winter camping and ice fishing is an idea I’ve been working towards for a couple of years and over the holidays I finally gave it a shot.
We were graced with mild and stable temperatures over the Christmas break with overnight lows of around -6 to -10°C. Even better was the fact that there was hardly any wind on the night I decided to venture out. The spot I chose was a drop off at Grandview on Pigeon Lake. I mapped the area in the summer using Autochart Live and knew it was a relatively short walk from the shoreline. Using the GPS on my Humminbird I was able to find my way in the dark (since I didn’t get there until 8 pm) and have my tent set up on the spot before I even drilled a hole.
Setting the tent up and getting comfortable took almost an hour. I was genuinely surprised it took that long. Each task was easy enough. I spent extra time staking out the tent to guard against wind during the night. But before actually doing the work, I would have said I’d be set up in twenty minutes or less. Just goes to show you that things outside take longer in the winter.
Once the tent was secured I shoveled out the snow and settled on a floor plan for my cot, heater and various other things before drilling my one and only hole. Having one hole limits the amount of things I can drop down it. Thinking ahead, I brought a foam mat to use as a hole cover when I went to sleep, just in case.
After I set up, I was able to catch a couple walleye and enjoy some snacks and drinks. The coyotes howled for what seemed like forever, but eventually quieted down enough for me to get some decent sleep. As with tenting in the summer, I sometimes find my first nights sleep is more like three or four 90 minute naps than actual rest.
The next morning I woke up before the sun and was already celebrating a few walleye caught well before I’d normally be on the lake. There’s nothing like eating a hot breakfast, enjoying a cup of coffee and catching a few fish from the comfort of a warm sleeping bag.
My first solo overnight ice fishing trip was a great experience. Being able to comfortably spend a night or two on the lake means I can now travel further from home and spend more time exploring the frozen north we call home.