The 5th grade class recently went on a field trip to learn about ice fishing. The Montana Fish, Wildlife, and Parks department were in charge of the trip and we went out to Bynum reservoir. There were a lot of buses there from other schools. We had our lunch and then the kids played in the snow until they were ready for us on the ice. It was about 26 degrees but the sky was mostly sunny and there was no wind. All in all a beautiful day.
The kids got a crash course in ice fishing and safety. The MFW keep the fish that are caught for the science classes to dissect later in the year. They calculated that they needed 981 fish this year for all the school but so far had only caught about 50. So the kids were eager to help catch as many as they could.
Then we headed out onto the ice. It was about a half mile walk out to where the holes had been drilled. The kids spread out and found a hole each. The ice was about 16 inches thick but it was a little disconcerting looking down through the hole and seeing where the ice ended and knowing that we were sitting on nothing but frozen water. There were plenty of volunteers and MFW officers to help the kids.
My son, his aide, and I trucked around to different holes trying our luck. You have to understand that my son being autistic doesn’t have much of an attention span, so we ended up spending about a minute maybe two at each hole before moving on.
At one point my son walked past a fish that someone had caught. It was laying on the ice waiting for the MFW to come and get it. As he passed it moved. He jumped and ran away screaming, but we got him back and showed him the fish. After that he got excited and wanted to hold it. We explained all about the parts of a fish. Then they told him that if he kissed the fish he would have good luck fishing the rest of his life.
Now before you get all weirded out, it is actually a fishing tradition up here. At first, he was confused and skeptical about kissing this fish but after the bus driver explained he was game and gave it a big smacking kiss!
After about an hour of fishing unsuccessfully, most of the kids were getting bored. Some of the boys started plowing through the snow on their knees and found a fish frozen just under the surface of the ice. So that kept them going for a while. My son decided that he needed to make snow angels. And his aide joined in.
We had some trouble getting back to the bus. My son didn’t want to leave and it turned into a wrestling match on the ice, but finally the MFW came along with their ATV and gave us a ride on the little trailer they were pulling. The kids didn’t catch very many fish, but they had fun. All in all it was a good day.