Ever since meeting my fiancé, I have developed a new found respect for winter sports. I have always been a fan of snowboarding, but never bothered to consider other fun options for enjoying the outdoors. After one trip ice fishing, I was “hooked.”

I am now just as excited to pull the ice fishing, gear out of the shed, as I am my snowboard. Last New Year’s Day, I took a trip up Montana Hwy 93 to Pablo Reservoir. I found myself catching perch by the bucket load and surprisingly was too busy catching fish to care that my fingers were frozen.

If you are new to the sport of ice fishing or are interested in giving it a try this winter, here are a few items you will need to make it happen.

*Fishing poles – Ice fishing poles are smaller than regular poles. They are not built for casting. They are about 2-3 foot long instead of 6-7 feet.

*Ice auger – In order to get to the fish you have to cut a hole in the ice. Augers range from hand powered to electric and also gas. I lucked out and had my fiancé drill holes for me.

*Tackle – Jigs seem to be the lure of choice for most ice fishermen, but they come in every color of the rainbow and all different sizes.

*Ice skimmer – It is simply a colander on the end of a stick, used to clean the ice shavings out of your hole. I tried cleaning out the hole with my bare hands and it was NOT a good idea.

*A Bucket – This is one of the most important items. It works well for getting your gear out on the ice and hauling your fish off the ice, and also gives you something to sit on other than a big block of ice.

Don’t let the name fool you. Ice fishing is not as miserable as it sounds. I was reluctant to go at first, because it sounded way too cold. It is a great way to get out and enjoy the great Montana outdoors this season.