It’s almost my favorite season here in Minnesota – Ice fishing season! I love getting out on a frozen lake, drilling some holes, setting the Tip Ups, and dropping a line in for some jigging. That feeling of excitement when you look out the window of your shack or shelter and see one of your flags up. That mad dash to pull up a pike before it steals your minnow. Nothing beats fishing over a propane heater with good stories to share with good friends. Even with the modern comforts and help from technology, there’s still a deep connection with nature. Being outside, experiencing the sights, sounds, and smells of Minnesota, connecting with family and friends, and catching a nice fish – There’s no better feeling in the world.
I’ll never forget my first-time ice fishing, when my best friend and his father brought me out with their group. It was such a picturesque day; not a cloud in that deep blue, winter sky, no wind, and it was unseasonably warm. When we pulled up to the lake in his huge white truck, my friend’s dad told us to “roll down your windows! Just in case we go through!” I don’t think I had ever felt that much excitement, danger, and sense of adventure all at one time. We must have had at least a dozen Tip Ups out on the ice. Every time a flag went up, we kids would race each other to see who would get to bring up the pike. Northern after northern, flag after flag. Sometimes you get lucky and sometimes you go bust, but this day was the best round of ice fishing I’ve ever experienced.
To me, this is the Minnesota way of life – closely connecting with nature, harvesting our own food, and sharing these amazing outdoor moments with our families. Experiences like these require safe and healthy environments. Minnesota families should be able to rest easy, knowing that the fish they pull from the ice are safe to eat. That means ensuring that they don’t have mercury or other heavy metals in them, and that the lakes and streams they come from aren’t too contaminated with stormwater and agricultural runoff. At Conservation Minnesota, we are working to make sure that your state leaders understand how important it is to preserve the Great Outdoors for our enjoyment. I’m proud to connect my love of ice fishing with the work we do to ensure all Minnesotans can safely enjoy a fresh-caught walleye or perch dinner.