Wednesday, July 16, 2014

ice fishing in July

We went ice fishing on Nunavut Day. It was a beautiful day, and it seemed like an appropriate thing to do on a holiday meant to celebrate the territory's coming into existence. A bunch of us piled into the van and drove out past the gravel pit towards Long Point.

View towards Long Point

Even though it's July, the Arctic Ocean has still stayed mostly frozen, which is why it is possible to go ice fishing in the middle of the summer.  The cracks in the ice means that we don't need a drill to cut a whole in the ice either.  The main challenge is just getting to the ice floes.

Sometimes getting to the ice means taking a giant leap over the crevices and hoping you don't miss or lose your footing.  I didn't do very well in the long jump event in high school, which is too bad because long jumping skills would have been really useful, but luckily I made it over.

Then it was time to start fishing.

my tackle, and ridiculously extensive lure collection, most of which I don't think I'll ever use

Ice fishing basically involves dropping your line and jigging - moving your lure up and down in the hopes of catching a fish's attention.  I am pretty sure this is what Will Smith was referring to in his song, "Getting Jiggy With It".

The fish were biting that day...but only sculpin.  They were biting like crazy, and pretty much everyone caught at least one sculpin.

Unfortunately, they are reeeaaally ugly and nobody wants to eat them, so we threw them back.  But they kept coming back and biting!

Rob says, "Another sculpin?"

The ice had all these neat little pockets of water that held marine life.

These pockets also made excellent beer coolers.

Off in the distance, we saw something dark moving on the ice. It was a seal! Tired of hooking ugly scupin fish, we decided to try to sneak up on the seal.

But he was fast. Also, we were loud and also very visible, and he was very far away, so he had plenty of time to jump back into his seal hole and swim away.

exploring the seal hole

But we knew that the seal would have to come back to the surface somewhere to take a breath.  Scanning the horizon, we could see him re-surface at another spot in the distance.  And then another seal popped his head up above the ice several metres away, and we watched them slowly bob up and down, greeting each other. It was a cool moment.

This is not a seal. This is a person.

On the way back to the truck, we saw that the ice had shifted and the gaps between the ice floes were even wider than before.  To add to the drama of the moment, a family of Inuit folks had gathered by their cabin on the shore, pulling up lawn chairs to watch us in amusement as we silly kablunaat attempted to clumsily cross the ice.

Well, we didn't fail to entertain. A few of us got one; one of us (I won't mention who) didn't quite make it across and fell in the water. Luckily, the water wasn't very deep there, and the truck was nearby so she was able to get warm quickly.

It was a good day, even though we didn't bring home any fish.  Next time, we will. Either that or we'll develop a taste for sculpin.