Stay off the ice

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Thom Abraham

Now that the first two events of the Bassmaster Elite Season are in the books, I feel compelled to share some cold weather fishing thoughts. And by “cold weather” I don’t mean the weather the terrific 10 faced on Sunday. Let me explain.

Sometime during Championship Sunday coverage, I received a text from Mark Zona. In it stood one of his sons – Hunter or Jacob, they are twins, so I had no idea. Zona's offspring was clutching a nice 5-pound largemouth, and Zona simply wrote, “Found ‘em.” Now, I don’t know if he was channeling Matthew Robertson and his “ON 'EM” cap, but I do know one thing, Jacob – or was it Hunter? – was standing on the water.

I’m not talking about in a biblical way here; I’m talking about in a Grumpy Old Men way. My reaction? No thanks. Look, I grew up in the Finger Lakes region of upstate New York. I know all about hard water. I played college hockey. I actually learned how to skate backwards when I was 7 years old by facing into the wind and letting it blow me backwards across the pond, so I get it. I’m just not into drilling holes in the ice and using a 2-foot rod with a maggot on the end to catch fish.

Now, I have plenty of buddies who are into that sort of thing. "Oh, it so exciting when the flag pops up and you hand line a pike through the hole in the ice!” No, it’s not. It’s just cold. And I don’t care if your rainsuit says 100 mph or 200 mph or 1,000 mph on it. It's still cold.

I just never got it. And I don’t mean to offend anyone, but scooping slush out of the hole and filling a bucket with perch, again no thanks. Ice is for keeping the water in the livewell cool, not fishing through. Since 1980, I’ve lived on-and-off in Florida or Alabama or Tennessee. To be honest, it’s too cold here in Tennessee most of the winter.  I have a severe case of what folks in these parts call “40-itis” meaning, “I ain’t going no further north than Interstate 40,” which in Tennessee runs from Knoxville to Memphis.

So look, if you want to go out there and drill holes and suck the fish out of their winter resting spots, go ahead. I’m just saying. It’s a lot warmer in a tree stand or a hockey arena, or better yet, on a lake somewhere in South Florida.  If a cold front blows through down there, take a cue from the Florida bass and go hunker down somewhere til it gets warm again.