Most fishermen and women will tell you without a doubt, a day on the water, whether that water is frozen or not, or whether they catch anything or not, is a day well spent.
Tim and Jamie Freed are the first to admit, “There is nothing better than a day fishing.”
The two are regular fisher “people” whether on a lake, pond or river in the summer or on the ice in the winter, on that same lake, pond or river. (See related story about the ice fishing derby in Valier this weekend on page 12.)
They have all their own equipment for whatever the season and if it is winter, “We have the icehouse with a heater. Thank the Lord for propane heaters,” laughed Jamie. “The last time we went, I was fishing on the ice in our icehouse in my shirt sleeves. It doesn’t get much better than that.”
For those that are unfamiliar with ice fishing, it involves finding just the right “chunk” of ice, auguring a hole in the ice, setting up “tip-ups,” which are the flags that pop up when a fish bites your line and then sinking your line into the water below the ice.
And then, waiting.
“I love being able to see the fish below the ice swimming around. But just because you see the fish, doesn’t mean they are going to bite the line. It is a game of patience and waiting.”
For some, that “game” may just be a long, cold day on the frozen water. But for the Freeds and so many others like them, it is a day spent doing what you love, in a place you love, hoping to catch something you love to eat.
Freeds hope to catch Walleyes, Pike or Perch, all of which Jamie said, “Are really great to eat.”
There are always lots of great places to ice fish and as Jamie said, “Everyone has their own best place to go catch fish and most never want to tell you where. So, when someone asks, ‘Where did you catch that?’ Most responses are ‘I don’t know.’ We call that place ‘No Tell ‘Em Lake,’” she said with a grin.
They have fished a lot at Tiber Reservoir, Lake Frances and places called “No Tell ‘Em Lake,” which is probably where the biggest fish can be found, or so Jamie might say, with a wink.
Jamie comes by her love of ice fishing naturally, having done this as a kid with her dad. “This is a great family activity and is really fun when you get the kids involved. If you are doing the derby, take your kids, otherwise you are really missing out,” she added.
Even though she truly loves to ice fish, she did admit, it is a bit unnerving when you are out on the ice and it pops and cracks. “It is a good thing when it makes all that noise because it means the ice is building up, which is another good thing. But it is a little nerve wracking when you are standing on the ice and it cracks.”
Once you get by that, or get used to that, then it becomes a day on the ice doing what you love, fishing.
Several years ago, Jamie was diagnosed with cirrhosis of the liver. This meant her liver was not functioning properly. “Everything you put into your body must go through your liver and when your liver isn’t working right and gets so plugged up, like mine is, then everything backs up and causes all sorts of problems in your body,” she explained.
At this point, Jamie’s liver problems are very bad, but, they are not bad enough for her to be put on a liver transplant list.
“I am still too well to be put on a donor list. It is a fine line in between being too well and too sick,” she said.
Even though Jamie is not feeling well most of the time, she still needs to be, as she said, “sicker” in order to be placed on the donor list.
So, while she waits, she knows how to gauge what she can do and what limits she needs to place on her life. “I am still really tired most of the time. I have some good days mixed with the bad. I know if I do too much, then I need to rest for a few days. It is a balancing act,” she said.
Jamie still works 20 hours a week and cannot say enough about the people she works with and all the others she has surrounded herself with.
“I am so blessed to have this job with the great insurance and all the great support from the people I work with and all the other people around me,” she said.
Even though she is not feeling anywhere close to as well as she would like, “I still make time to do the things I enjoy, like ice fishing. I refuse to wallow in self-pity, so I get out and do the things I love, and I laugh a lot. I think that is really important.”
A day on the ice fishing, even if you do not feel so great, is still a good day.
Just ask Jamie.