For many people, it can be frustrating trying to learn something new, and I think most would agree that it can be even more difficult to try and teach a complete stranger how to achieve success in that new activity. But when you have open minds, quality tools, and patient students and teachers, things can come together perfectly!
This past weekend myself and 5 other “expert anglers,” helped out at the first annual Nurse’s Ice School. Now if you hadn’t heard of the event, it’s probably because it was a very small group of friends that wanted to do some big things for beginners in the sport of ice fishing. The set-up was simple! Bring 20 nurses (women) out onto the ice, have our “expert anglers” (men) teach them the do’s and don’ts of ice fishing, and have them start reeling them up hand over fist! Wait a second, that doesn’t sound all simple at all…
Most anglers would say, “there is no way that is going to work.” At first, I was pretty much sure this was going to be a circus, a carnival, even a calamity, of sorts. Believe it or not, it was a success! With the combination of enthusiasm, pre-fishing, great sponsors, free pink ice rods spooled with pink line, and perfect weather anything is possible!
The day began with all of the students getting a bucket of gear from the sponsors Fishidy, Clam Outdoors, Provide, and Recycled Fish. Once they were geared up, a few nurses were paired up with an angler to learn the ropes of ice fishing. They learned anything from punching holes, reading flashers, and setting tip-ups. Even baiting hooks (Yuck!) and taking fish off (Ewww!) were on the initial agenda. It was a trial by fire. They were dragged through the fishing ranks, and they all came out as Ice Queens! As you can imagine, they did hit a few snafu’s. There were hooks stuck in gloves, shrieks from fish flopping out of their hands, cold feet, and a blown fuse that kept us from getting warm cider. Luckily, the fishing was HOT!
When it was all said and done each one of them caught fish. The vast majority of these gals were recording their first catches, EVER! We had tremendous celebrations for anything from a two inch bluegill to a 32” northern pike. Of course, each catch was followed with big smiles and photos.
I have already had some great accomplishments from fishing in my life thus far, but this was one of the most satisfying things I have done for the sport. It is of the utmost importance to continue to introduce new anglers to the great sport of fishing. I feel it is my duty to give back to something that has given me so much already, and I can promise this event, and others like it, will help fishing grow and live on for generations to come. I couldn’t have been happier or more proud of the attitudes of the attendees, or the professional job the instructors displayed. Like any other day, it was a fantastic day on the ice!