The Adventures of Mac Lightfoot

Mac Lightfoot and his good buddy Silver Fox greeted the day with frozen smiles, numbed fingers and sub-zero temperatures. On the menu was an hour plus ride by snow machine to the designated lake to attempt to do their part at thinning the ever-growing pike invasion. As much for the process of drilling holes, setting tip-ups, and telling jokes in the ice shanty, as for eating the mild, but uber-bony water wolf, the pair embarked on one of their many fishing adventures.

Shortly upon arriving after a glorious ride on that blue bird morning on their Polaris steeds, the pair went to work unpacking gear, drilling holes, setting up the ice tent, and deploying herring in the shallow grass flat. The spot had been recommended by one of Silver’s long-time compadres, who had proven on more than one occasion to give good advice, so the pair worked with a sense of optimism necessary to enjoy drilling ice-holes at 5-below-zero.

On many lakes in Southcentral Alaska, pike have been illegally introduced, and here the regulations state that 5 lines can be used per angler and there is no limit on the number of pike retained. They chose to set-up eight holes with tip-ups, and to use theremaining two holes to actively fish with rods. For the soft-water angler who’s never seen a tip-up, it’s a device which sits across the top of an ice hole, suspends a bait in the water and has a flag that pops up when a fish is moving away with the bait. The angler then pulls the fish in by hand. Primitive from an angling standpoint, but highly effective in allowing one to work many lines and stay on top of the ones that have fish.

Mac and Silver finished preparations in about 30 minutes and set to jigging in the ice house. Silver needed a bathroom break and left Mac to mind both rods in the tent. While Silver was away, a pike began to mouth Silver’s bait and Mac pulled his rod out of the holder in anticipation of hooking the toothy critter. Moments later Silver came back, and announced that the Alaska State Troopers were out checking fishing licenses. 

Perhaps Mac was a little light-headed from the propane fumes, but he neglected to place either rod in their holders while he and Silver conversed with the Troopers. Licenses were checked, niceties exchanged, and one of the two Troopers, recognizing the pair, asked how the newly developed magazine was progressing. Mac began to respond and was stopped mid-sentence by the clattering of a rod being drug towards a watery grave within the confines of the ice tent. 

As Silver witnessed the scrum, both Troopers and Mac made a wild dash for the ice tent. Mac, having earned the name Lightfoot, was first to the door and made it inside in time to watch the rod disappear down the hole. As if being tickled by some mysterious, unseen hand, Mac burst into laughter verging on tears. The Troopers looked at him quizzically, wondering how someone could laugh at losing a rod. Trooper 1 looked at Mac and said, “You must have a lot of rods” to which Silver piped in with “He’s laughing because it’s my rod”.

Mac hopes one day to retrieve that rod like his wife did to one special rod on Cottonwood Lake. But that’s another story.