When Zane Pappas leaves his house to go to work he hugs his child and kisses his wife. Its the kind of thing this family man, and grandson of Greek immigrant Milos Pappas does. You don’t have to ask him why, its obvious, he loves them, and the winter weather in Cleveland can be fierce, so when Zane goes to work every day, he knows, there is the small possibility that he could not come home.
When Zane goes out on weekends, he hugs them both a little longer and a little tighter. On winter weekends Zane goes ice fishing. Its not an activity that first comes to mind when one thinks of sports, but when these hearty guys from ice county do go out, its serious. A person can die on the ice. In 2009 Zane was one of the 134 people rescued from Lake Erie. An early spring warm up caused a chunk of ice to break sending the unsuspecting fisherman on an unexpected trip towards Canada. That was the day Zane also got a little closer to his God.
The first thing an ice fisherman needs to learn is safety, if you don’t, you’re dead. But there probably wont be a Youtube video of your death like a NASCAR driver or even a wrestler whose dive off the ring became tragically real. You would be a simple obituary and in a box on your mantle. And freezing is not a pleasant way to die.
Ice Fishing is several things, it is not really about catching fish, it is partly about male bonding, it is a right of passage for many area young men, a journey into adult hood, the small cabin temporarily on the lake is usually a treasure trove of adult magazines, cigars and playing cards. Even Zane, who prays every day, has a few items in his cabin his wife would not approve of. Zane looks forward to the day he brings his son and passes the tradition of manhood to him. Usually,a boy is mature enough at 14.
For most men ice fishing is also a spiritual journey. Solitude of one thoughts for a man is priceless and sometimes painful and full of regret. It is a primal feeling like a Native American vision quest or an Australian walk about, a religious pilgrimage and when the ice thaws every year all men look forward to the next, but knowing this year may be their last.
To heck with technology, Zane keeps his supplies simple, he has no sonar or power drill, he is a purist with a saw, fishing line, bait, a very small battery operated heater and a bible. And when Zane pulls into his drive way at the end of a weekend fishing trip, he may have a few fish and he may not, but his journey has made him a better man his neighbors see it, his coworkers see and he sees it. As for his family, they already know he was a good man.
Women have been known to try to spend time on the ice, but it is a male journey, in it a man finds himself and becomes better for it. Zane knows his days of ice fishing will one day end and younger men will take his spot, but when he takes his last breath and stands before his god, he will know he has lived his life to its fullest potential and have a story to tell.