SoDak Stories: Lifelong passion for ice fishing - KSFY News - Sioux Falls, SD News, Weather, Sports

SoDak Stories: Lifelong passion for ice fishing

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It is a solitary sport with reasonable expectations. Water with a frozen surface, a fishing rod, and some bait are all you really need. Oh, and some fish make the experience that much better.

"(I'm) thinking about how to catch this fish, a lot of times. But, you think about your life. You think about what's going on at home," said Ben Ekrem.

The 52-year-old Ekrem has been fishing since he was eight. And, he isn't a casual ice fisher, if you know what I mean.

"Every weekend. And, if E can sneak away during the week if I don't have anything going on I'll probably try and sneak out then too," said Ekrem.

The Sioux Falls native has fishing licenses for five different states, but he says South Dakota is a fisherman's delight.

"It's one of the best. It's one of the best. We have a lot of people from Iowa and Minnesota that come here as a destination to fish both as summer and winter," said Ekrem. "It's like paradise here."

One little gem of a spot is called Family Park at the corner of 12th Street and Tea Ellis Road in west Sioux Falls. It used to be a gravel pit, and because of that there are lots of nooks and crannies the fish like to swim around in.

Catching the big one, or little one is a thrill Ekrem doesn't take for granted.

A diabetic for much of his life, Ekrem experienced complete kidney failure three years ago. He was fortunate to receive a kidney transplant a year and a half later. Then three months ago, he received a pancreas transplant.

"Basically, I'm as healthy as I'm ever going to be. I have a new pancreas and a new kidney. Life is really good. I feel like I felt 20 years ago only better."

During his recovery Ekrem stuck with one of his life's constants.

"Some things you can do without and some things you can't. I can't do without ice fishing in the winter," said Ekrem.

So, each weekend ben does what he does best.

"We're going to put this one back in and let someone else catch it that enjoys catching fish," said Ekrem.

Paying it forward for future ice fishers who appreciate the thrill of the bite and the love of a solitary sport.

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