What’s an auger?

Nolin's catch
My fish ended up being the largest catch of the day, if only by an inch or two.

Something really weird happened to me two Saturdays ago: I went ice fishing.

What started out as my friend Zach’s invitation to throw some Frisbee discs in the snow turned into a ploy to trick me into thinking sitting idly on a frozen lake for three hours would be a blast… and somehow it worked.

So there I was, in the back of Fred Meyer, under my extra layers, writing down my name and address on a $20 sport fishing license around lunchtime. After a detour through the Burger King drive thru, I had arrived at my destination: Little Campbell Lake.

Armed with a pink camping chair and one of Zach’s odd fishing poles, we set out on the ice. Zach’s other buddy supplied the auger, the tool used to drill through the ice, which is one of the essentials for any ice fishing adventure. My newest fishing friend’s auger wasn’t very sharp, so every few yards we’d stop to inspect miniature craters — relics of ice fisherman’s past — seeing these would make much quicker work. We settled on a spot got to drilling — or auguring? It only took a few minutes to revive one such excavation.

Not far from our camp, candy red and yellow fishing shelters contained at least one or two humans. It was difficult to know for sure, I couldn’t detect any sound or movement coming from them. These small huts confused me as did pretty much everything else used in this sport. Was it really necessary to use a tent?

About thirty minutes later though, my body temperature dropping every passing minute, I regretted ever questioning the use of such appliances.

congratulations from UPD to UAA graduates

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Once I wet my line, I actually really enjoyed myself. I felt lucky to experience something so unique and quintessentially Arctic. Within 15 minutes, I felt a subtle tug on the end of line. I started to reel it, or rather, pull it out of the water. To my surprise the fish I’d caught was quite beautiful. It looked just like a baby salmon, but Zach commented it could be a salmon-hybrid that Fish and Game stocks in the lake. I had no intentions of keeping all 11 inches of sea life, but I was talked in to doing otherwise.

I continued fishing, my downward stare interrupted every so often by the hybrid fish’s last signs of life. I would go on to catch a few more fish — smaller and not nearly as pretty. Between the three of us, we caught four or five trout and salmon hybrids, enough to fill one of our gallon Ziplocs.

That brings me to the other weird thing that happened to me two Saturdays ago: I caught the biggest fish that day.