Michael Perry: Great Ice Fishing Begins With Cold Weather And Ends With Warm Memories | Recent Columns by Michael Perry
Grandpa Perry was the grandfather of the outdoors. He fished as much as you would any grandfather would expect and often took us with children. Knowing what I know now about getting into a boat with kids casting hooks, I admire both his love and bravery. That said, he spent time on Iwo Jima Beach during WWII, so his concept of danger was calibrated to a different standard than most.
It was with Papy Perry that I did most of my ice fishing. In the beginning, we were making holes in the ice with a “stick,” which was basically a giant chisel with a loop of rope attached to one end. You put your arm through the loop in case the spud breaks through the ice and you lose your grip on it. At that time, the spud was taller than me, and I remember wondering if he couldn’t just pull me under the ice with him.
I mostly remember having numb feet and dreaming about the heating of the car, but over time Grandpa Perry built a portable cabin. We would put our tip-ups outside, then head back to the hut to jig some shit and sunfish.
Grandpa always brought treats, and he also knew how to use a can opener, so I also remember the hiss of his little gas stove bubbling a can of beans, or maybe Spaghetti-Bones. These are the moments when the youngest discover that fishing is only incidental to fish.
That said, unlike Grandpa Peterson (he was also a good grandfather, his talents lay elsewhere), Grandpa Perry was a master at frying fish in a pan, and they were usually sizzling in the kitchen at the the moment our toes were thawing, so there was an incentive to focus on the task at hand.