Two middle-aged guys decide to go ice fishing; they set up their jigs and wait, and wait, but have no luck. Not even ten feet away from them a boy catches fish after fish from his hole. One of the men asks the boy his secret. The boy replies, but his words are muffled. The man says that he cannot understand, and the boy spits a mouthful of worms into his own palm and says, “The fish like warm bait.
The above obviously is a meant to be a joke, but when it comes to the tactics and dedication of fishermen—let alone those of ice fishermen—there is no limit to pushing the envelope. Photographer Layne Kennedy and writer Greg Breining document and explore the idiosyncrasies and exploits of “ice anglers” from all over the world in their aptly titled and lavishly sparkling book, A Hard-Water World: Ice Fishing and Why We Do It. Kennedy’s photographs have been published in National Geographic Traveler, Sports Illustrated, Life, Newsweek, Smithsonian, and many other magazines. Greg Breining, a former editor of the Minnesota Conservation Volunteer, is the author of the books, Fishing Minnesota, Wild Shore, and Minnesota Yesterday & Today. Research for this book has taken them all over the world, heeding the mysterious call of frozen bodies of water from Lake Superior to the Volga River in Russia. Their love of the outdoors and genuine appreciation and humility shown towards their subjects lends a self-deprecating hu-mor to the book’s rich prose and an essence to the photography that captures the reader’s eyes, imagination, and heart. The essays and photos compliment each other so well that the book puts the reader on the ice.
A Hard-Water World is an invitation to join an elite group, to whom, Breining writes, “Ice fishing is…the best kind of fishing. These people like the cold, the ice, the roar of the auger, the speed of the snowmobile, the thrill of driving on ice and the delicious taste of fish from clean, cold, water.” De-signed like a coffee-table book, but without pretension, A Hard-Water World moves the reader beyond the ergonomics of man and fishing into the dynamics of spirituality.