Smelting with the Boys

Smelt shacks

A few weekends ago, I went with my grandfather, dad, and older brother and stayed in a small hut for five hours to be able to say that I accomplished a smelting trip. Smelting is like ice fishing except you’re in a small, heated hut, and instead of catching any type of fish, you only catch smelt.

My dad wanted to go as early as possible, so I got the pleasure of waking up at 5 a.m.. Mind you, I could’ve gotten up at 6 a.m. but my grandfather wanted to have breakfast at a restaurant instead of just eating at home. Originally I wanted to go to IHOP while my grandfather was determined to go to Denny’s. Surprisingly, we didn’t go to Denny’s or IHOP but instead we ate at a diner.

When we arrived at the lake it was about 7 a.m. and freezing. Lucky for us, the hut had a furnace which was leaning sketchily to the left, seemingly about to tip over at the next breath of wind. My dad carefully chopped the bait of squirming blood worms. After putting worms on the two hooks, we all waited somewhat patiently for a tug on the line.

In the meantime, my brother, grandfather, and dad talked about construction. Beforehand, Lowell had advised me on how to contribute if they started conversing about sports, which I don’t care about. He suggested that I just appear interested by nodding my head for a few minutes, and then repeat what they had just said. He said the technique is a guaranteed way to earn the admiration of men and amuse myself. However, instead of sports, they began enthusiastically discussing construction, so when I repeated what they had just said about the different types of insulation and nails, I just sounded dumb. I guess that technique only works with sports.

Apparently there are some days that people catch hundreds of smelt, but this was not one of those days. My brother, grandfather, dad, and I drove the hour back home at the end of the day empty handed. Overall, smelting was not the most exciting experience, considering we sat on hard wooden chairs for five hours. However, I did get to spend some quality hours with my family. My expectation for the trip starting out was that it would likely degenerate into an extended family argument, but in the end, we actually had some fun.