Friday, February 23, 2007

Ice Fishing in King's Point, Green Bay

While teaching in King's Point from 1971-1973, I took many slides with my first 35 mm camera. The three photos I am sharing today depict a frozen harbour that is a perfectly smooth sheet of ice as far as the eye can see. During our school's winter carnival, students had fun skating on this natural ice surface.

The first photo shows a herring net that is set under the ice. In the foreground are two chunks of ice with a stick and rope laid on them. Look carefully between the two pieces of ice and you will see a darker rectangle . This is a hole that is frozen over. The piece of rope that looks like it is frozen into the ice is actually attached to a net. About 60 feet away is another identical structure, shown in the second photo.

When the fishermen wants to check his net, he breaks the ice on both ends, then hauls the net out of the water, takes his catch, goes to the opposite side and hauls the net back in under the ice again. The little pieces of ice that you can see between the two ends were removed to help him put the net in under the ice in the first place. He used a long stick to move the end of the rope, bit by bit to each of the holes until he had the net completely under the ice. I have never seen this type of fishing before or since that time.

Later, I photographed the fisherman pulling the net and went to his home to interview him about this type of ice fishing. He was in his 80s, partially blind and certainly not afraid of hard work. I watched him cut the ice with an axe, pull the net from the icy waters, remove the few fish he caught, then pull the net back into the water, all in freezing cold temperatures. His gloves were soaking wet at first and iced up shortly afterwards. He told me he used the fish he caught as food for his family as well as his dogs.

I am not sure if fishermen in Newfoundland and Labrador use this method of fishing today, but if anyone on this list knows of any, please let me know.

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