Minnesota Historical Society

A Hard-Water World

$ 24.95


Ice Fishing and Why We Do It

Photographer Layne Kennedy, Text by Greg Breining

Minnesota Historical Society Press (November 1, 2008)

Beautiful photos and engaging essays transport readers into the oddball world of ice fishing—warm-house hovels and mansions, ephemeral ice cities, dark-house spearfishing, and bizarrely humorous northern winter festivals.


To the uninitiated, ice fishing seems improbable, wacky, and dangerous. But every winter, more than 2 million hardy northerners go to their place on the lake: literally on the lake.

Striking story-telling photographs by Layne Kennedy and engaging essays by outdoor writer and fisherman Greg Breining capture the quirky world of ice fishing—its natural beauty and solitary subzero vigils, along with its oddball practices and practitioners.

Kennedy and Breining take readers to fun-filled if bizarre festivals that include “Guys on Ice” in Door County, Wisconsin, the Tip-Up Town USA festival on Michigan’s Houghton Lake, and the supremely self-mocking International Eelpout Festival on Minnesota’s Leech Lake, which honors a slimy, potbellied, finny critter. Photos offer peeks inside ice houses that range from a plastic-bag cocoon to an impossibly luxurious Adirondacks ice residence with front porch and wet bar. Travel to a frozen lake in the Boundary Waters, to ice cities that form and disband overnight, and to the Volga River near Moscow, shadowed by the KGB.

Perhaps most importantly, A Hard-Water World allows the reader to enjoy the beauty, wonder, and, yes, insanity of ice-fishing all year round and in the comfort of his or her own home.

Author information

Layne Kennedy’s photographs have been published in National Geographic Traveler, Sports Illustrated, Life, Newsweek, Smithsonian, and other magazines.

Greg Breining, former managing editor of Minnesota Conservation Volunteer, writes frequently about the outdoors for national magazines and newspapers and has authored several books, including Fishing Minnesota, Wild Shore, and Minnesota Yesterday & Today.

  • 128 pages
  • 123 color photos and 2 b&w photos
  • 9.625 x 8.5 inches
  • ISBN: 9780873516242

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