Women on Ice – a Crazy, Incredible, & Incredibly Cold Ice Fishing Adventure

The colder it is, the happier I am.  The more extreme and remote the circumstances and shooting conditions are, the more geeked out I become. I sometimes think I should live in the Arctic Circle because of this.  Ha!

Our Women on Ice trip to Lake of the Woods in Northern Minnesota was the perfect trip for me.  Over 3 days we had a drive over the longest ice road I’ve been on (I’ve only been on the one between Bayfield and Madeline Island), -50 windchills, a blizzard, rides over miles of ice in a bombardier, stuck snowmobiles, and huge fish.  The food was amazing, the friendships built were incredible, and I had the time of my life.

When people normally think of women ice fishing (people who don’t know me or these women), they think of women huddling in shacks waiting for someone else to bait their hook. Not this group – nor the majority of the women I have met through this project who have found us on social media. There are more of us then you think.  (Insert evil cackle here) 😉 .

That being said, most of my time on the ice has been photographing the craziness, but on this trip, I did a little of both.

It was the first time I had been ice fishing since Jim died almost two years ago, and the first 2 days I basically hid behind my camera taking photos because I had forgotten how much I actually knew.  On the 3rd day I said screw it, and started really fishing.  I got a crappie on the line and completely freaked out.  Every bit of knowledge I had in my brain about the process of landing a fish seemed to have seeped out my ears somehow.  I have no idea why I did that… but I did. And it was the perfect group to lose my mind around.  They just gave me shit about it, and then something snapped in me and I remembered what I was doing and continued to fish.  On the last day.  Of course.

To be perfectly honest, I have never been afraid of the ice, and I won’t ever be afraid to be on the ice.  Going out on it actually is a place I love to be.  The cold barreness of an icy landscape is my inspiration for much of my landscape work.

My fears about fishing were, and are, a confidence issue.  Jim & I always went together, and though I know a lot (more than I thought, apparently), not having his voice bitching at me to pick up the Vexilar was a rather painful thing. Not being able to bounce ideas off of him about how to target a fish was something that scared me.

But this trip changed that.  And I cannot thank this group enough for helping me get my confidence back.  Join us if you can – we’d love to have you!

A HUGE thanks to our sponsors:

Sunset Lodge for their great accommodations.  (And to Spenser & Dan –  our guides- for hauling us around in bombadiers in crazy weather.)

Chevy Trucks for the Colorado with wifi for all of our social media needs.

Clam Outdoors for all the outdoor swag to keep us warm and catching fish.

And Keith from OutdoorsFIRST for the incredible video.

So – here is my ridiculous attempt to whittle down 3 days of adventure in to a blog post. I cannot even begin to put in to words what this trip meant to me – on many levels.  I rediscovered how much I do, truly love being out on the ice, and I remembered how much I love cold weather. Especially  40  below 0 and really, really windy.

And if you want to see the larger images – check them out here:  Women on Ice

The group came from all over Wisconsin and Minnesota.  We met in Superior to load up the trucks to head 6 hours north to the NW Angle.  We made many junk food stops along the way… and I ate way too many Cheetos in the car. Ahem.

Women On Ice - Lake of the Woods Women On Ice - Lake of the Woods

The wonderful walleye in Baudette 😉

Women On Ice - Lake of the WoodsWe had to enter Canada – and then head out again- and I may have gotten a little sick shooting so much from the back of the vehicle.

Women On Ice - Lake of the WoodsAnd this is the entrance to the US from the Canadian side of the NW Angle.  You have to call in and give all of your info.  The kids on the school bus have to do this everyday! Crazy… also it was about -20 while we were doing this. Brrr.

Women On Ice - Lake of the WoodsThanks to Clam for the ice fishing swag!

Women On Ice - Lake of the WoodsGetting ready in the dark makes for fabulous black and whites – I am a particular fan of the ArticCat shot.
Women On Ice - Lake of the WoodsFirst ride on the Bombardier- and of course the Nebulus on the snowmobile. Women On Ice - Lake of the Woods Women On Ice - Lake of the WoodsWhen we first arrived on our spot after being delivered via bombardier, the wind was blowing, but it wasn’t too bad…

Women On Ice - Lake of the Woods Women On Ice - Lake of the WoodsBut then it REALLY picked up.  (You can start to see my camera gear getting covered up).Women On Ice - Lake of the Woods Women On Ice - Lake of the WoodsThen it got CRAZY.  We lost one shack, but managed hold down everything else and pack up for the journey home for the night.Women On Ice - Lake of the Woods Women On Ice - Lake of the WoodsThe next day, the wind had finally calmed down from the blizzard the previous evening and we got to drive to our spot during a beautiful sunrise.
Women On Ice - Lake of the WoodsSetting up during that sunrise was incredible (and seriously check out the bigger photos for the full effect)Women On Ice - Lake of the Woods Women On Ice - Lake of the WoodsOn the 3rd day, we went in to Canada for crappies.  You have to call in before you cross the border – there were some interesting logistics that I can’t wait to do again next year.  After we called in, we got to take a smaller bombardier on it’s maiden voyage!  The gentleman had actually finished it the night previously.Women On Ice - Lake of the Woods Women On Ice - Lake of the Woods Women On Ice - Lake of the Woods Women On Ice - Lake of the WoodsI love this sequence of Shelley catching and releasing one of her many crappies.
Women On Ice - Lake of the WoodsA photo of me on ice – imagine that ;).  I love ice – I will never live in fear,  living in fear stops us from feeling the joy and love in the world around us.  This trip reminded me of that.Women On Ice - Lake of the Woods The end of our 3rd day meant our camera man needed to take a nap.  We wore him out ;).  You can see all of his awesome video here:  Women on Ice YouTubeWomen On Ice - Lake of the Woods

 

So there is my attempt to whittle 3 days of high wind adventure in the NW Angle into a short blog post.  Such an incredible journey.  Cannot wait to do it again!

See bigger photos here:  Women on Ice

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  1. […] that I severely lacked confidence ice fishing without my late husband.  Once I went on my trip to Lake of the Woods this past January and discovered I actually know what I am doing, my confidence returned. It […]

  2. […] January 2015, the Women Ice Angler Project had it’s first trip to Lake of the Woods, MN.  Started as a one time media event to create positive images of women […]