Women on Ice… Advancing the Sport of Ice Fishing
Dec 17th, 2020 by Keith Worrall
Modified Dec 17th, 2020 at 10:37 AM
Women on Ice… Advancing the Sport of Ice Fishing
When Barb Carey joined AGLOW (Association of Great Lakes Outdoor Writers) seven years ago, something became very evident. Women were not being represented enough Barb Carey, Women on Ice, preparing fish housethroughout the ice fishing industry. “I had been running WI Women Fish since 2006 and I knew how many women actually ice fished. There were a lot. I also knew how much money women spent on the sport of ice fishing,” explained Carey. Those observations are what motivated Carey to start an organization called Women on Ice.
Women on Ice… To inspire and motivate other women who want to learn the sport of ice fishing, as well as generate awareness and recognition for women anglers. This movement of women ice anglers started seven years ago and has been building. “Awareness of women in the sport of ice fishing has gotten much better,” explains Carey, a retired police officer from Madison, WI.
Prior to being a police officer, Carey owned a petting zoo at one point in her life and was an LPN at a VA Hospital in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan. “It’s funny, I have helped more people through my fishing career than I had in all of my previous careers combined.”
Carey and other leaders from Women on Ice were up at Lake of the Woods this past week. It was mainly a work trip, gaining assets for sponsors, another way of saying providing images and videos, along with getting the word out about the benefits of the product lines they represent. Make no bones about it, along with the work, there was some fun, which includes ice fishing. “Normally at this event, we would invite women who would like to join us to learn more about ice fishing or simply get to know other women who ice fish. Because of COVID, we had to hold off on that part of the event,” explained Carey.
The Women on Ice event was based out of River Bend Resort located at the mouth of the Rainy River that leads into Lake of the Woods. This was home base where the ladies were staying in cabins overlooking the river and across the ice to Canada.
As a guest at the Women on Ice event, my main role was to stay out of the way! These ladies are proficient with a capital “P”! These ladies came with their own ice transportation. A couple brought snowmobiles, others brought ATV’s. In many cases, these ice fishing machines were tricked out with features making ice fishing easier and more enjoyable.
I rode with Carey on her red Honda ATV. It was set up with a Raymarine GPS so Carey knew exactly when she was both on land and on the ice. It also allows her to follow her plot line to and from fishing spots on the ice making sure she didn’t get off course.
For the ladies who didn’t have a unit on their sled or ATV, Carey insisted they use their Navionics app in their Smartphone. At one point, just as the sun was rising and everyone was getting ready to hit the ice, Carey pulled one of the group aside and asked her, “Do you have your Navionics on? Do you know how to drop a plot line so you can find your way back if need be?” It was all part of it, teaching, promoting leadership, enabling ladies with the skills and tools to be self sufficient as ice anglers.
When I say these Women on Ice ladies know their stuff, I mean it. Each morning they were out before the sun was up starting their machines, looking over their equipment, attaching their collapsible fish houses to their snowmobile or ATV.
At the end of the day, same routine in reverse. Some equipment was brought inside where it was warm, other equipment secured in trailers, etc.
When I rode with Carey, she pulled two collapsible fish houses, one attached to the other. Her K-Drill auger was attached to the front of her ATV. She made sure to take my Vexilar in a bucket and put that in the front rack. “With any electronics, I like to put them on the front rack so they don’t get so beat up in the fish house banging around.” There weren’t many details missed. Equipment was accounted for and secured.
The Women on Ice group was very good about helping each other out. “Are you topped off with gas? I have a gas can in the trailer, let me grab it for you.” This kind of teamwork resonated.
Naturally, some of the ladies had more experience than others, and it didn’t matter. What mattered is making sure everyone was safe, helping to accomplish the mission of the trip and having a good time.
The Women on Ice event was very organized with safety being of prime importance. “Can I have everyone’s attention.. Hey, can you guys turn your machines off just for a second, thank you. We are going to go out on the ice together. I will take the lead and Rikki, (referring to Rikki Pardun, one of the leaders) will be in the back. Let’s make sure we stay together in a line. This is still early ice and we have to be careful. If you would happen to come across an area or something that doesn’t look right, stop your machine and approach it on foot to check it out with a spud bar first. Make sure you have your float suits on and zipped up. Does everyone have ice picks on?”
Once on the ice, these ladies, if they weren’t involved in shooting a video or creating some cool looking still shots of ice fishing products, were after the walleyes. Once we stopped in an area, the augers were cutting ice, collapsible fish houses were being set up, heaters were getting started. Some of the ladies, simply to get their line in the water, started fishing in the open. All were dressed in Clam ice suits, one of the Women on Ice sponsors, so they were ready for the weather.
I have to say, the Women on Ice group needed nobody’s help, in fact, I am confident they could provide some good learning for the majority of ice anglers. If they did, they would be cool about it. These are a group of very good natured female ice anglers who simply love ice fishing, love the comradery, and love being ambassadors in a sport they hold near and dear to their hearts. Women on Ice, advancing the sport of ice fishing.