Ice Fishing On Boulder Mountain

Try this when those dead, dreary mind-numbing days of winter descend. I guarantee it will cure even the most severe cases of cabin fever. Just remember this cure should only be attempted by professional outdoorsmen. Amatuer could be seriously injured.

First off, you decide one day, let's say in mid-January, to go ice fishing.

This could be done easily, of course. Hop in the truck, drive the pavement to Otter Creek, chop a hole and fish. But the best fishin aint always the easiest. The best fishin'would be up at Oak Creek. Big brookies and cutthroats live there. And they haven't seen a line all winter. Trouble is, that's high up on Boulder Mountain. The cold up there this time of year is awesome. Snow must be six feet deep. Could be reached up the access road on a snowmobile, though. Except you don't own a snowmobile. Last time you looked, however, your buddy, Bob, had one. Go ahead, give Bob a ring. He'll be glad to go.

Come early afternoon, there you are, you and Bob unloading the snowmo ile and Bill packing the gear. (Bill is your younger brother, who tagged along for fun. It's obvious now, he's also into pain.) One snowmobile, one chainsaw, three fishing poles, three tackle boxes, food, drink, and three people. Looks like this calls for two trips.

The trip up goes smoothly. Two forty-mile round trips and everything is on the ice. The weather is cold but sunny. Looks like super fishing. Bob fires up the chainsaw and cuts three holes in the ice. You get the jig in the water and sit back to enjoy life. What better way to spend a winter day? Good friends, clear mountain air and the trout just waiting under the ice.

A little time goes by with no strike. You interrupt your day dream long enough to see your favorite fishing pole give a little jerk, tip up, and disappear through the hole in the ice. Oh well, not much you can do now. Bob and Bill decide that rolling around on the ice and laughing is appropriate. You do the only thing you can do. Borrow a pole without asking, tie on a massive hook with pounds of sinkers and fish around under the ice for your pole for an hour or so. Bob sulks because you're using his only pole, and Bill gets skunked.

The sun goes down and the cold comes up. Time to be getting off the mountain. You, Bob and the gear will go down the first trip, then Bob will come back up and get Bill. Only problem is, the snowmobile won't start. Looks like the choke's frozen. But you're and experienced outdoorsman. Just choke it manually with your hand and start it. Your intelligence is rewarded - it starts. Bob jumps in the driver's seat with a loaded backpack on, you struggle onto the back with a loaded backpack, a chainsaw in one hand (big, deluxe logger's model), the two poles and taekle boxes in the other. By now it's getting late and speed is essential. Bob twists back on the throttle and you're off across the lake.

As you near the dam, Bobtries to slow down with no luck. Looks like the throttle's stuck on wide open. Now begins a ride that will go down in our county's history as the finest of all time. The moment calls for calm and reason, however, total panic sets in. The snowmobile shoots up the embankment, flies through some boulders, and blasts out onto the road. Miraculously, everything is still intact. This isn't just any old road, either. It is twenty miles of twisting, turning, axlebusting, four-wheel drive dirt road with a layer of snow on it - on the side of a mountain properly named Boulder Mountain.

Somehow Bob manages to keep the screaming snowmobile on the road for about a mile. Somehow you manage to stay on the back. Bob decides to crash the snowmobile into the next deep snowbank, kill the engine and save you both. This is very thoughtful of him. As the machine plows into the snowbank, you try to throw the chainsaw as far away as you can so nobody gets maimed. Over you go!

Bob lands on you, gear lands on you, you're sure you've broken your kneecap and the snowmobile keeps going. It does a neat tailspin, hits the road and heads for home. Bob jumps up quick, screaming and chasing his snowmobile down the mountain. You just lay there because you think your knee is broken. (Don't worry though, it is really only a severe strain.) Even though Bob is a fast runner, the snowmobile has him in a distance race. It makes one turn okay, then jumps the bank, snarls a little and heads across a meadow with Bob in hot pursuit. Luckily, a pine tree steps out in front of the monster, hitting it dead center. The impact demolishes the snowmobile, and it finally gasps a couple of times and then dies a slow, sputtering death.

Bob finally catches up, takes a moment of silence to add up the payments he has left, then walks back to check on you (good friends are like that).

Using the chainsaw as a crutch you finally get up. By now it's dark and cold enough to freeze spit in your mouth. The only recourse here is for you to grab what gear you can and hike the sixteen miles to the truck. Bob will walk back up and get Bill, who's faithfully waiting for a ride back down.

Now begins the longest walk of your life. Using the saw as a crutch, you stumble and slide through the darkness and deep snow. The only way you know you're off the road is when you slam into a tree. You're not sure how, but somehow you survive and finally make it to the pickup truck. You're half frozen, crippled, hungry and tired. Your mind fast f6wards ahead to how good it will feel to climb in the truck, start up the engine, fire up the heater and thaw out. Then you realize the doors are locked and Bob has the keys.

Well, only one alternative here. Fire up the saw you've been using as a crutch and get an inferno going. A feeling close to despair sets in now. Drop the gear and pray to the God who protects all outdoorsmen that the saw will start. The saw starts after a couple of viscious pulls, but the chain isn't moving. It's frozen tight to the blade and won't budge an inch.

Actual despair sets in now.

So you get down on your hands and one good knee and dig through the snow for some dry tinder. By now your fingers are frozen lumps of solid ice. Every thought, every moment seems to take an eternity. Finally, you've got a small stack of tinder. You add a shot of gas from the saw, light it and use the flame to thaw the chain on your saw.

Hope begins to return.

You get the chainsaw going and cut down what seems like an acre of dead timber. Then you build a fire to be remembered forever. A giant, red hot, flaming inferno. As you slowly get thawed, Bob and Bill, guided by the firelight and promise of warmth, stagger up to the truck.

All but the snowmobile get home in one piece - no lives or limbs lost. Good, clean fun!

I can only say this worked for me - for the rest of the winter I'll be perfectly content to set at home, let dust gather on my fishing gear and throw more logs on the fire...