Excuse us for not knowing what we’re talking about.

(Just this once.)

Bag Lady and Shopping Siren have never gone ice fishing — not together, separately or accompanied by rugged men with raw, wind-blown faces and hunks of ice in their veins.

Indeed, we’re not entirely sure if smelt is the bait or if smelt is what you catch, or, um, both?

But that matters not. Our Bliss threshold is low:

• Does it get us out of the office?

• Is there minimal risk of injury?

• Can it be shopped for?

A mere two out of three and we’re there!

So when we heard there are a few ice-fishing bait shops around L-A, we decided to check them out. We were a little nervous, admittedly, that we’d be unmasked as the non-belongers we are the moment we walked through the doors. Thankfully, there were no scenes to report.

We hit Dag’s Bait Sport & Goods on Minot Street in Auburn and Stone’s Bait & Tackle on Lisbon Street in Lewiston, beside Papa John’s (no anchovy jokes here, no sirree.) Burnie’s bait shop on outer Lisbon Street, advertising the largest selection around, was closed when we stopped by. Too bad.  However, the deals we found on suspenders and mealworms at the others? Not to be believed.

• D & L trolling spoons, Dag’s, various prices

Opt for a chunky metal, er, spoon that’s heavy enough to take on a grown man ($3.50) or a more whimsical one, dappled, with shiny yellow beads ($9.79.) Trolling spoons, you are a mystery to us.

• Ideal Suspenders, Dag’s, $1.90

In black, red or camo print. Holy cheap means of holding up your pants.

• Bait, Dag’s, various prices.

Smelt: $4 for a dozen. Sandworms: $4 for 10. Mealworms: $5 for 100. This is according to the sign on a refrigerator in the back. We did not open said fridge. We’re taking the sign’s word for it.  

• Pak Shack 3 bench, Dag’s, $99.99

Giant, portable bench. Seats three. Or one if that person gets tired of ice fishing and decides to stretch out and take a nap.   

• Shappell DX3000 ice-fishing shelter with removable windows, Dag’s,  $376.59

Sign said 10 percent off, but it wasn’t clear whether the price tag already reflected that discount.  Either way, less than $400 for a shelter is awesome. Or at least it seems awesome to us newbies. Because when you’re sitting on ice in the middle of winter in Maine, shelter is a good thing. However, removable windows as a bonus feature? We don’t get the bonus.

• HT fishing poles, Stone’s, $16.99 to $25.99

This we know! It’s good to have fishing poles if you’re going to, you know, fish.

• Baker Hookout silver grippers, Stone’s, $7.99

Bag Lady has vivid memories of her grandfather getting bitten by nasty, razor-sharp teeth while removing fish hooks from pickerel during one summer fishing trip. Seriously, Bag Lady was not getting anywhere near that action. And now she doesn’t have to!

• Fuzz-E-Grub soft body lure, Stone’s, $2.99

“Fish bite and won’t let go.” It’s the bill collector of bait.

• Large woven basket with straps, Stone’s, $79

Throw on back? Check. Appear amazingly rugged? Check. Pack blanket, wine, chocolates, hike deep in woods, sweep girl off feet? Check.

Best find: Hi-tech polar mitts, Stone’s, $24.99

As manly as mittens get. Nubbled, black, excellent for showing who’s boss. In mittens.

Think twice: Hi-Tech three-legged sports chair, Dag’s, $16.99

 Triangular seat without much in the way of padding. Guys, that’s not the tiniest bit uncomfortable? For real? Hmm. Well, we’ll just be over here, sitting on something else. Maybe an overturned bucket. Maybe the bench mentioned above. Maybe the heated front seat of the car as we drive away from the nice frozen lake and go to Starbucks for peppermint hot chocolate. Yeah. Probably that one.    

Bag Lady and Shopping Siren’s true identities are protected by a pair of stylish, sweater-wearing Doberman pinschers (who love fish but hate ice) and the Customer Service counter at the Sun Journal. You can reach them at [email protected] and [email protected]

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