Yes, ice fishing can include sitting on a bucket on a frozen lake freezing your extremities off. For that reason, many people don't want to participate.
These people say something to the effect that it's not their idea of a rip-snorting good time. They say they don't want to sit on a bucket on top of a frozen lake and freeze. Then, they laugh mockingly and try to convince everybody in the room that they're the smart ones. That's OK. The less of them on the ice, the better.
Preparedness and Determination
Ice fishing has evolved into my favorite subculture in the angling universe. It's the perfect combination of ultimate preparedness and unyielding determination for food in man's timeless battle with nature. To be consistently successful, the ice angler must possess a knowledge of moon cycles, weather patterns , ice tendencies, fish habits, local game laws and lake geography. He has to measure and document ice depth, water depth and bait rigs, not to mention adhering to a personal set of safety guidelines that he should never break.
The adept ice fisherman is obsessed with appropriate gear and the maintenance of that gear. The ice auger, ice tent, tent heater, ice cleats, tip ups, jigging poles, ice anchors, depth gauges, live bait, artificial jigs and tackle all demand attentive upkeep and organization. Clothing is one of the most important gear items in his arsenal. A combination of warmth, mobility, durability and resistance to water and wind is the ultimate goal in the ice fisherman's wardrobe.
So, yes, ice fishing can consist of sitting on a bucket staring down a hole in the ice being chilled to the bone. Or, if committed, the ice angler can fish comfortably in any conditions and find great success, as well as a sense of security knowing he or she is prepared and equipped for any kind of weather.
In addition to this sense of self-reliance, ice fishing is physically demanding. There is the drilling of the holes, hauling gear, running safety lines and setting up the ice tent. Once the holes are drilled, they demand constant maintenance. Keeping the holes from freezing over and continually checking the bait, switching bait and moving around the surface of the ice until the fish are found. I call it "walk trolling." Much like one would do in a boat, the ice angler must constantly move and adjust to the situation and conditions. Too many unsuccessful ice fishermen think they can walk out on the ice, drill a hole or two, then sit and wait for the fish to come to them. This is the very reason many people don't enjoy ice fishing. They get bored, cold and they don't catch any fish.
It's not uncommon for me and my fishing buddy to drill 100 holes in a single day on the ice. If an eddy on a trout stream doesn't yield any fish after multiple casts, do you continue casting into that eddy? No, you move to where the fish are. It's the same theory on the ice.
Kid Friendly and Delicious
So, if you have subscribed to the naysayers' diatribe, or have just never considered ice fishing, I encourage you to reconsider. It's truly one of the most entertaining and satisfying winter activities out there. Kids love it, and at the end of the day, you might have some fish to cook up.