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Families brave cold to bond over Montana ice fishing

Posted at 8:48 AM, Jan 01, 2019
and last updated 2019-01-01 10:48:51-05

BOZEMAN – During the summer months, the Bozeman Pond at the Gallatin Recreation Area is filled with kayaks and children wanting to swim, but what about the winter?

Drivers passing by can see blue, red and green tents sit atop the water on a thick layer of frozen ice filled as folks test their luck ice fishing.

The day starts out with people bearing the freezing cold, hauling their tents to a designated spot on the ice.

Some choose tents specifically designed for ice fishing, but others us plain-old camping ones. 8-year-old Haylee Boyle and her 10-year-old cousin Shaydin Sters’ family chose the latter of the two, but surprisingly they weren’t cold.

“I love ice fishing better than any other fishing,” said Shaydin.

“I think its really cool,” said Haylee. “I took all of my gloves off, my hat, and my mask already.”

It has been less than an hour since Haylee and Shaydin started ice fishing, and so far they haven’t had any luck.

They are positive they will catch a fish by the end of the day, but if not at least they got to spend quality time together, something they do quite often since they both live in the Gallatin Valley.

“Yeah, I do it a lot ’cause she only lives in Belgrade and I only live in Bozeman,” said Haylee.

A blue tent, just a skip of the pond away, has another family inside of it, 7-year-old Shannon Dixon and her dad. Her three older sisters are at home, but she wanted to hang out with her favorite person on the pond.

“You get to spend time with your family and catch fish,” Shannon said.

Shannon is more commonly known by her nickname, “Peanuts”. Why? Because each time she goes ice fishing she has to have her most beloved snack, a big plastic bag of unshelled peanuts.

The nickname has become so popular, the sign outside her tent is engraved with the words “Peanut’s Hut”.

Peanut loves everything about ice fishing but her favorite part? “The fish, the bonding experience, the fun,” then she paused before turning to her dad and said, grinning, “Oh yeah, and not being at home doing chores.”

During her time on the pond, Peanut didn’t catch any fish but her dad caught two. One he kept, and the other he threw back. She hopes her luck will turn, but if not her and her dad can always reel in an excuse to come back next week.

-Mederios Babb reporting for MTN News