Great Outdoors: Ice Fishing Enjoyed on Bear Lake

Minnesotans Love the Excitement and Togetherness of the Winter Sport

BARNUM, Minn. – It was a cold day in the Northland, but that didn’t stop anglers from getting out on the frozen lakes to do some ice fishing.

Ice shacks dot the frozen surface of Bear Lake in Barnum.

“You get depressed if you’re at home. Here, even though you’re still sitting in the ice house, you’re out, you’re doing something different, and you’re not just a lump on a log,” said Mindy Murtley while fishing.

On a crystal clear afternoon, these Minnesotans can’t think of a better way to spend their time.

“What’s the alternative, sitting inside?” asks ice fisherman Steven Tucker. “It’s a beautiful day, the sun’s out, it’s not windy, it’s not really that cold, it’s a lot better than thirty below, so might as well enjoy it if you can.”

Staying inside the heated shacks can be fun too, especially when they’re equipped with TVs, underwater cameras, and video games.

“They think you’re just cold sitting there,” said ice angler Rachel Cruser. “No. It’s very nice in there, comfortable. It’s like sitting at home in your room pretty much but you get to do an activity at the same time, a sport.”

Anglers say the winter version of their sport can be even more exciting than summer fishing.

“The crappie’s right there but it doesn’t want to bite it, so you’re trying to figure out how to make it bite and sometimes they’re just like ‘nope, I’m just going to look at you,'” explained Mutley. “And that’s what’s so neat to see on the 42 inch is seeing that fish looking at your bait and not biting it.”

For a lot of families, spending time together in the ice shack is about a lot more than coming home with a fish dinner.

“We just get to sit in this little box together,” said Cruser. “It kind of forces us to have some good conversations.”

It’s family bonding with the thrill of competition.

“Every year we keep track of how many we each catch and see who’s the winner,” said Murtley.

But as many of the lifelong ice fishermen and women told us, it’s fun no matter how many bites they get.

“Sometimes we come out here, we don’t catch nothing, but we’ll play catch with the frisbee or fetch with the dog or we’ll do a little golfing or something while we’re out here, so it’s just fun,” said Tucker.

Ice fishing is a winter adventure that makes Minnesota feel like Minnesota.

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