Ice Fishing Food: What to Eat on the Hard Water

I just got home from a 2,000-mile road trip from western Nebraska to Winnipeg, where some friends and I battled blizzard conditions in the hopes of icing a few perch, walleye, and whitefish. Unfortunately, the fish stayed pretty tight lipped, though we did manage to catch enough for a fish fry--including the largest, fattest perch I've ever pulled through the ice. And while underwater, mouths were closed, on top of the hard-water ours were routinely open as we tried to stay warm by ingesting as many calories as possible.

Over the course of the weekend, we had everything from moose steaks to pizza to the requisite breakfast burritos. We also picked up a dozen doughnuts from that Canadian staple--Tim Horton's. The best on-ice meal had to be the garlic venison sausage that Rick Schweyer grilled up for us Saturday. Rick, who works for Cabela's Canadian division, did his best to put us on some big walleyes across the provincial border in Ontario. While the fish didn't stick to Schweyer's plan, he still pulled hero status when he tucked a portable grill on the lee side of his shelter and grilled up brats and sausage for everyone.

Cooking on the ice presents its own unique set of challenges and it takes a keen eye and a lot of patience to heat up foil-wrapped breakfast burritos over a propane blind heater, especially burritos that accidently got put in the back of the truck for the drive to the lake, where they froze solid in the sub-zero temperatures we fished in. Still, for the most part, even the burritos were a success as we managed to get them defrosted and cooked without burning them…too much.