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Well, Santa obviously got my letter because under the tree there was a brand new Little Buddy radiant heater that sits on the top of a one pound propane bottle and is good for at least five hours of luxuriant warmth emitted from its rosy red burner tile.

perfect solution for heating small spaces, the company website whooped.

And no space gets much smaller than my one man ice fishing tent. Which in a pinch can be stretched into a one man one dog work space if my fox red Lab Penny comes along for the fun.

Coal Lake boat launch east of Wetaskiwin.

The outside thermometer at home was hovering around minus 11C, a perfect day to give my Little Buddy it shakedown voyage and trial run.

I loaded the dog, tent, auger, cuttings scoop, tackle bag, rods, bait tubs, snow shovel, three bottles of gas and my brand new heater into the Jeep and headed for Coal Lake.

This sinuous waterbody is the geological remnant of the great ice melt river that once drained Glacial Lake Edmonton.

Like the ice fields the river is long gone. But the valley it carved, known as the Gwynne Channel, remains.

Captain Palliser on his historic 1859 map calls it Long Lake. But it was rebranded Coal a few years later and remained a shallow and largely fish less slough until 1972 when Alberta Environment threw up a dike at its southern end across Pipestone Creek, raising the water level three metres.

Boosting the winter dissolved oxygen level and allowing pike to survive and thrive.

I dropped onto the ice surface at the launch off the Cloverlawn Hall Road (featuring their famous Christmas lutefisk supper) and rolled down the lake for a spell to a little bay under the eastern bluffs.

Then drilled four holes progressively toward shore looking for water two metres or so deep over a grass bottom.

I set up on the first hole and pressed the Little Buddy striker button. The pilot light caught and when the filament began to glow the tent radiated with sweet, rapturous heat.

Penny hated it. I guess the space was too tight for the three of us and she demanded to be let back into the truck.

The water was a little shallow for my liking but since I done all the work I dropped a chartreuse jig tipped with a frozen shiner minnow down the bore anyway. Because you never know.
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