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Warm Winter Gives Ice Fishermen the Cold Shoulder


In this Saturday, Jan. 31, 2015 photo, Sam Syrotynski of Albany, N.Y., clears ice from a fishing hole on Great Sacandaga Lake in Mayfield, N.Y.

In this Saturday, Jan. 31, 2015 photo, Sam Syrotynski of Albany, N.Y., clears ice from a fishing hole on Great Sacandaga Lake in Mayfield, N.Y.


People usually think of fishing as a warm-weather pastime.

But some fishers say the activity is best when it is freezing outside. Those people are called ice fishermen.

When it gets really cold, they are in their element.

In parts of the northern United States and all over Canada, ice fishing is a big sport.

People wait all year for lakes and rivers in their cities to freeze. They drive trucks and snowmobiles on the ice, cut a hole into the water, and drop a lure.

Here is how it works:

First, fishers drill a hole in the ice. Then they drop a line into the water. Then they wait. Hopefully, a fish bites the hook at the end of the line. It is just like regular fishing, but it is done in the winter.

The fishermen wear heavy coats and gloves to stay warm. Some people build small shelters on the ice around the hole. They leave the shacks on the ice all winter, so they can come and go easily. The shelters provide some protection from the cold and wind.

The shelters are called “shanties,” or shacks. Some have rugs. Some have electricity.

Brian King owns a bait shop near Detroit, Michigan.

He says he is hoping for ice to form on Anchor Bay, and everyone is wondering if it is going to happen this year.

Dan Thompson is a meteorologist from the National Weather Service.

He says he expects this year’s warmer weather to continue.

“It’s likely due to El Nino. It’s hard to point to one specific factor because there’s a lot of things working. But in an El Nino year, warmer temperatures are favored and certainly that is what we’re seeing this year.”

Some people are still buying ice-fishing supplies. They are waiting for enough ice to form on smaller bodies of water, like canals.

Other people are happy fishing in the winter, as during the fall or spring, from the shoreline.

In some parts of Minnesota, much further north, low temperatures have been below freezing since December 1. The ice fishing has already started.

In Lake of the Woods, Minnesota, people like to catch a fish called walleye. It is the most popular fish in Minnesota because it is hard to catch. It has a covering on its eyes that is pearly, and helps them to see in low light, says the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources.

The Minneapolis Star-Tribune reports that by January 5, ice fishing was active. Resorts are busy with people who like to catch fish.

A local tourism bureau told the newspaper that ice fishing adds about $10 million to the economy each year.

An ice-fishing guide in Lake of the Woods tells the Pioneer Press the season began about one month early in 2014. Things are different this year.

I’m Dan Friedell.

Dan Friedell wrote this story for Learning English based on reporting from the Associated Press, Pioneer Press and Star-Tribune. Kathleen Struck was the editor.

Have you ever gone ice fishing? Did you catch anything? Did you have fun? We want to hear from you. Write to us in the Comments section or on our Facebook page.

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Words in This Story

bait – n. something (such as a piece of food) that is used to attract fish or animals so they can be caught

meteorologist – n. a person who works in a science that deals with the atmosphere and with weather

pastime – n. an activity that you enjoy doing during your free time

snowmobile – n. a vehicle designed for travel in snowy conditions

lure – n. a device used for attracting and catching animals, birds, or especially fish

shoreline– n. the land along the edge of an area of water (such as an ocean, lake, etc.) : a coast or shore

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