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They just don’t get it

Fishing shows are never hard to find on the outdoor networks available today. Some are enjoyable, no matter what kind of fish they are catching or where they are fishing. A lot can be learned from the shows, if you can see through the obvious claims of sponsors’ products that are all miraculously effective. What troubles me it that most of the hosts have no concept of what “cold water fishing” really is.

There are exceptions, of course, such as “Jason Mitchell Outdoors” and the “In-Fisherman” series, but overall the shows are based on bass fishing in warmer climates. Of course, most of the U.S. is warmer than North Dakota. I get that, but to hear fishing experts wearing a windbreaker and sunglasses say they are dealing with the difficulties of catching fish in cold weather is somehow unfair to those of us who primarily fish North Dakota.

The idea of ice-covered lakes and rivers never occurs to these guys. Cold water fishing to them is when the water temperature of a lake or impoundment dips into the low to mid-50s, not when the ice is 42 inches thick and covered with 3 feet of snow! Watching such shows is like pouring salt in a wound. Give a North Dakota fisherman a 50-degree lake and he’ll spend the entire winter in his fishing boat, probably in short sleeves and cut-offs.

Just once I’d like to see some of these warm climate guys deal with line freezing in the eyelets of their fishing rod, auger through thick ice, and consider surviving the day and not getting stuck to be the true measure of success.

I’d trade places with them, of course, but that doesn’t mean I don’t get irritated on occasion when I watch those programs. Who wouldn’t like to fish all year round on open water? Jealous? At times, but I guess what really gripes me is that tips on how to ignite a bite in 50-degree water in January and February are basically useless in this state.

Despite all of that I still enjoy watching the fishing shows, but I guess I’d like to see one guy in a boat in February at least mention that plenty of fishermen in North Dakota do just as well fishing through the ice. Better yet, I’d love to see one of those “cold-weather fishermen” come up here and really experience what cold weather fishing is all about. Just once I’d like to see one of those guys adjust his Oakleys while sitting on an overturned bucket with wind-blown snow swirling all around him.

I’d record that episode and watch it over and over again, at least until the ice leaves our lakes. That’s when many real anglers will begin contending with the difficulties of cold-water fishing. I’m looking foward to it and the frustration that is sure to follow.