Hooked on Ice Fishing

Hooked on Ice Fishing
By Andrew Lavigne

Leonard (Gullege Sr.) Isaac and his nine year old grandson Gullege Isaac are out ice fishing during the last available days in March before the ice thaw begins, and as he sits in his shanty he says discouragingly, “I only caught about two dozen smelts all winter long, but I also catch tommy-cots which I throw back in. Usually during the past winters I’ve been catching a lot of smelts.” But this year – it’s been a disappointing year, in fact as I watch the both of them and wait for a bite or a least a nibble to take a picture for the Gespisiq – over an hour goes by before I decide to leave because the wait is unbearable.
Ice fishing has to be a sport/pastime for the patient person. The older Gullege says sometimes he wait 3 or 4 hours to catch a fish, but he never gives up – it’s in his blood and he loves to fish. He’s been fishing ever since he was seven years old (he’s now in his 70’s) and he’s hoping to pass on this dying tradition to his Grandson.
But Gullege Sr. doesn’t show despair as he sits patiently looking into the two holes he just made; he hopes that next winter will be a better year for catching fish. Not only has the fish been sparse, so has the shanties, as the numbers have significantly dropped. It was only a couple of years ago when Gullege’s shanty was surrounded by six or seven other shacks – now, he remains the only one west of the Campbellton Bridge. “Ice fishermen shouldn’t be discouraged,” Isaac said. “Conditions are just bound to get better. There aren’t any people out there ice fishing this year. Hopefully the conditions are more normal next year.”
Finally, after three hours of jiggling the bait and the fish ignoring it, and with me long gone – Gullege Sr. gets a catch, albeit a tommy cot. But despite this moment, he looks forward to getting out on his boat everyday starting mid-May as he’s done so for many years and fishes for trout until November.
When asked if he will keep the tradition going, little Gullege says he hopes to one day bring his own son or grandson out to do the same. We can only hope for the same – that the fish will continue to run and provide for generations to come.