Once 'terrified' of ice fishing, Minn. man now carries on tradition

Fishing for crappies
Ice angler Christopher Smith fishes for crappies on Golden Lake in Circle Pines, Minn., Jan. 10, 2014.
Dan Olson / MPR News

When Christopher Smith moved to Minnesota from Tennessee 25 years ago, he couldn't believe people actually went out on frozen lakes.

But as a transplant he wanted to see what draws so many Minnesotans to the state's 10,000 lakes.

"I remember the first time going out on the ice and being absolutely terrified and hearing all the creaks and weirdness and a truck drove past me," said Smith, 39. "And I thought, 'Well, if he's out here, I'm probably safe.'"

Before long, he became an avid Twin Cities ice fisherman.

In a new episode of Minnesota Sounds and Voices, I accompany Smith onto Golden Lake in the northern Twin Cities suburbs, where he partakes in a tradition that is thousands of years old.

Even though there weren't many fish biting that day - Smith caught only a "smallish crappie" - he wasn't skunked.

He vows he'll keep on fishing as long as the ice is safe.

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