You Can Take the Girl Out of the Woods

You can take the girl out of the woods when she moves to Boston but you can’t take the love of the outdoors out of my  girl.

It started in December when we gave Kristin and Matt their non-resident fishing licenses for Christmas. Kristin is our oldest daughter. She’s engaged to Matt. Kristin hasn’t been ice fishing since she was six. Matt went yesterday for the first time. The first fish Kristin ever pulled up through the ice was a pickerel when she was six years old. She took one look at its teeth, screeched, dropped the line, and the fish with scary teeth disappeared down the hole. She couldn’t be convinced to pull it up again.

Fast forward more than two decades. I met Kristin and Matt on a snowy woods road and taxied them the rest of the way down the road, through the woods and onto the ice via a Jet Sled behind my snowmobile.  I dropped them off at the pile of gear I’d taken in earlier, and went back for Steve. We need another snowmobile. Now that we have one we’re ice fishing in more remote places than ever before.

We pulled onto the ice and to my surprise, Kristin and Matt had the shelter popped up and ready to use. The camp chairs were standing up in front of the shelter. Shelter Sweet Shelter.  Steve put the auger together and started drilling holes. We set up a few tip ups then Matt crossed the ice to learn how to use the auger with Steve.

The first flag went up before we had all of the tip ups set up. Kristin pulled the small pickerel up and this time, she didn’t screech. It dangled on the line at the end of her outstretched arm. It wiggled and she moved away, and of course, the fish was still at arm’s length. There were a few laughs (I was bent over laughing.) about the fish “chasing” her, then the big question. “What do I do now,” she asked.

unhooking pickerel, ice fishing

Note the concern across her eyes…

“Take it off the hook.” Honestly, I didn’t think Kristin was going to touch the fish in any way.  She put the fish on the ice, waited for it to stop moving, and picked it up with her gloved hand. That’s my girl!  It took a little work to get the hook out, pickerel can be tough, but she stuck with it and got the job done.

Five or six fish later, I suggested we let Matt catch a fish. “Ya…we should,” Kristin agreed. Minutes later, Matt had his first fish on the ice. We were on the move for two hours. When the fishing slowed we retreated from the blowing snow to have lunch and visit. Matt said he understands now why his friends like to go ice fishing. When the fishing was very slow he understood why beer is often involved in ice fishing.

We hoped Matt was going to enjoy himself, and he did. He’ll be investing in good winter boots before next year’s season opens. I already have ideas for this year’s Christmas gifts. Introducing Matt to new outdoors experiences has been a lot of fun.

Matt kept up with road conditions via text message and when the snow started to accumulate back in Old Town, we pulled tip ups. Steve took Kristin and Matt back to the truck, out to the main road to their car and said goodbye. I pulled the last five tip ups while they were gone and put them all away. It was early when we called it a day. By 3:30 pm I was building a fire and getting settled in for the night.

Robin Follette

About Robin Follette

Maine Press Association award winner, 2013. Robin's Outdoors, Bangor Daily News, third place in Sports blogs. I grew up with a fishing pole in my hand and have always loved the outdoors. From gardening to hunting and fishing, kayaking, camping, hiking and foraging, most of my time is spent outdoors. I teach outdoor skills as a volunteer instructor for Hooked On Fishing - Not On Drugs and Becoming an Outdoors-Woman. Pro-staff at The Limb Grip. My personal blog is here. I'm currently working on my first book, a collection of short stories based on my outdoors experiences.