February 3, 2005 at 7:56 a.m.
Proving this time-tested theory, it happened yet again, just as I knew it would, on Sunday afternoon. The surface of the ice where we fished had more holes in it than a Lite-Brite board, so you could say that I was kind of expecting it to happen. Actually, it’s a wonder it only occurred once during the afternoon, and more surprisingly, that it took my 4-year-old nephew, John, such a long time to finally get wet. I believe that he remained dry for all of ten minutes before the unfortunate and uncomfortable incident.
“Uncle Dan, uncle Dan, um, is it alright if I…Aaaarrgh!” His body lurched sideways like the Leaning Tower of Pisa and down he went. John’s dad, Mark, was savvy enough to act as if soaking a leg in 33-degree water was simply part of the whole ice-fishing process – a sort of rite-of-passage. Lacking any fanfare, Mark simply took John into the fish house, dumped a fair amount of water from a boot, wrung a few things out and swapped the wet sock for a dry one. Smart thinking, because the moment a kid with a wet leg believes that his limb will somehow freeze solid and possibly snap clean off, your well-planned afternoon of fishing is shot.
Yes, the ol’ leg-in-the-hole deal is pretty traumatic, and has abruptly ended countless ice-fishing trips. Somehow, it always seems to occur, as it did on Sunday, precisely between the time that you’ve invested getting things set up and when you actually sit down to fish and enjoy the fruits of your labor.
I’m convinced that a kid - any kid - could somehow find a single hole drilled in a 500-acre lake and come limping back with a soggy boot full of water to prove it.
It’s just one of those cosmic things that may never be fully explained.
Dan Brown’s weekly outdoor column is brought to you by Frankies Bait and Marine in Chisago City and St. Croix Outdoors in St. Croix Falls, Wisconsin.