I will be the first to admit – I much prefer summer over winter. In fact, I could never see snow again and be perfectly happy. I am generally not a big fan of winter sports, and before I met my husband, you would never find me out on the ice on a 20 degree February day.
My husband Tom introduced me to the sport known as ice fishing. Crazy right – who would willingly spend an entire day sitting on a frozen lake? Well, as I soon discovered, hundreds of people do every day. Ice fishing in Macomb County is an incredibly popular activity. Come December or January, once the ice freezes over, every boat launch and access site on Lake St. Clair is packed full with cars.
I love being outdoors and on Saturday I finally got tired of being cooped up inside, so I put on my warmest socks and boots and many, many layers and helped Tom pack the car with all of his ice fishing gear. Tom informed me that the best fishing occurs at dawn or sunset, so we decided to fish between 2 p.m. and 6 p.m. Lake St. Clair has many ice fishing hot spots, some of which include Gino’s Surf, the Clinton River Cutoff, Selfridge Point and the Salt River. Since we have a yearly park pass, Tom and I decided to fish at Lake St. Clair Metropark, another popular spot for ice fisherman.
It turns out, if you have the proper equipment, ice fishing can actually be an enjoyable and exciting experience. We set up his shanty, a tent-like shelter, and started to drill holes in the ice with his auger. Once we were in the shanty, I arranged small chairs and booted up his portable propane heater, which made it nice and toasty inside.
Lake St. Clair is a relatively shallow and clear lake. We were fishing in about 3-to-4-feet of water, and through the hole could clearly see the bottom of the lake. This can be both an interesting and frustrating experience. When you drop your bait, you instantly see perch swim up to your hole; however, getting them to bite is another matter! Tom and I spent about four hours out on the ice, and throughout the day, we caught many perch, some quite small and others fairly large (these are known as keepers). Even though they are relatively small fish, reeling in perch is pretty exhilarating and time passes quickly when you’re catching them.
As the sun set, we packed up and headed back to the car. Throughout the winter, Tom has accumulated quite a lot of perch and we plan to have the family over for a fish fry come spring!
So, if you’re tired of being stuck inside this winter, ice fishing is a great way to get some fresh air and experience the outdoors. Visit www.tourlakestclair.org or www.lakestclair.net for tips on fishing anytime of the year!
Amanda Minaudo is an associate planner for the Macomb County Planning and Economic Development Department.