Angler #1

Any Ice yet

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With all of the talk about colder weather in the Northern parts of our state . Has any of it had enough cold to make ice? Ice fishing once a respected way to fish has sort of lost its interest because not many still around to show how it is done here locally. I had a great conversation today with an old friend of mine that was telling me of all the tip ups he has set up and jigging sticks in how he was unable to use them any more and how they were set up 5 for Brown Trout 5 for large Mouth 5 for pickerel 5 for Musky and of course the jigging sticks for Yellow perch . In another time we would choose certen ponds or lakes for what ever species was hot at the time, even smelting through the ice in some locations became important business in parts of Maine and New Hampshire.

Like every thing of late all good things come to and end and as long as we continue to get these climate changes one can be lucky if they can find such a place until the middle of the winter to even think about going.

The brethren of the ice are true testers of being a out door sportsman . Like all whom put in the time the joy of finding a place to place 5 holes and then watching the flag take off and the reel spin like crazy as the fish makes its run beneath the frozen water at times over 3 feet deep . Keeping warm by bringing out wind breakers on a sled that has been set up to sit and for some a place a small pot belly stove to help take of the chill and cook the fresh fish brought up through the hole you have laborious kept clean from filling in with ice after drilling the hole to the size you like  to have. . I have seen times when the hole was not large enough to pull the fish on the line through and up onto the refrigerator you would be standing on. Now thems were challenging times for sure and a time when more challenged themselves to the rigors of cold, and nasty weather conditions . How many here look to ice fish this winter ?   Tell about your times on the ice when we had a lot more than what we have today and what it meant to you to bring a family member out with you and share the ice and then hopefully a nice fresh meal of your favorite  fish .

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There is certainly fish able ice in the state right now for those that know what to look for. I am not searching for it until closer to the end of hunting season though. Out your way towards the cape has definitely been slimmer pickings the past few years but I have been on safe ice every year by the end of December; and usually before if I feel like missing out on hunts. Nothing beats early hard black ice 2-3 inches on shallow ponds. Many wait for more to fish it so the crowds are nonexistent. Don't have to lug the auger out and you can chip all your holes in a couple of minutes. The bite is always better for me early season too. I will come back to this thread when I drop my first tilt in for the season and hopefully share some pics.

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Thanks guys for the responses . We still have a few hardy souls that challenge the severe winter weather and the ice to fish . Hopefully more will find the time to post a few stories from past times and even present about some of the challenges one finds among the experience of finding good ice to fish on and then being being able to drill and extract a few fish of size . A few tips from today's hardy ice fishermen they could pass on to the novice on what to look for and how to remain safe on the ice would be nice to post as well Peace 

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This time of year, you really need to know the body of water you fish (are there springs, depth, where the sun hits etc) to be safe and that still is a crap shoot some time. If you haven't had any snow and you get that black ice, 3" is safe. With the snow coming shortly after a quick freeze like we just had, I won't go on the ice this time of year as it is going to be weaker/less dense ice. I always have picks around my neck in case I go in this time of year and always go fishing with a buddy (but don't stand to close).

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10 mins ago, The Rappin One said:

This time of year, you really need to know the body of water you fish (are there springs, depth, where the sun hits etc) to be safe and that still is a crap shoot some time. If you haven't had any snow and you get that black ice, 3" is safe. With the snow coming shortly after a quick freeze like we just had, I won't go on the ice this time of year as it is going to be weaker/less dense ice. I always have picks around my neck in case I go in this time of year and always go fishing with a buddy (but don't stand to close).

You mention picks around your neck . Those are a great safety item to have and yet simple to make . A item should you fall through the ice allow you to use one in each hand to help climb back onto the good ice and it you are lucky only have a slight case of hypothermia. We found the square wood picks to be the best when the hands are cold rather then the round ones.   

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42 mins ago, The Rappin One said:

This time of year, you really need to know the body of water you fish (are there springs, depth, where the sun hits etc) to be safe and that still is a crap shoot some time. If you haven't had any snow and you get that black ice, 3" is safe. With the snow coming shortly after a quick freeze like we just had, I won't go on the ice this time of year as it is going to be weaker/less dense ice. I always have picks around my neck in case I go in this time of year and always go fishing with a buddy (but don't stand to close).

What he said. December is always a tentative proposition and very changeable, espec. east and south of worcester. you really have to stay on top of the conditions and pay even more attention than usual to safety.  it can be done, but i prefer to wait for more widespread solid conditions.

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30 mins ago, RickBomba said:

Having fished early ice with my insane brother before, I carry a weighted oh **** bag with 100 feet of rope so you can throw it at your sinking buddy.

Hey, I resemble that remark!

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People have been getting on ice before thanksgiving. 
done here near the cape some small ponds are frozen. But I doubt we will see safe ice. 
I’d rather be out on the kayak fishing all winter. Smallies on blades using light tackle is a blast. January smallies will still jump 

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55 mins ago, RickBomba said:

Having fished early ice with my insane brother before, I carry a weighted oh **** bag with 100 feet of rope so you can throw it at your sinking buddy.

A definite must have!!  Had to utilize one last year for a buddy of mine and his son, that went through. 

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14 mins ago, DanCbass said:

A definite must have!!  Had to utilize one last year for a buddy of mine and his son, that went through. 

I another time and even today safety must be the prime motivator in planning a trip out on the ice . The sled box we once had put together had ski runners instead of the metal runners , along with the box with all of the tip ups and live bait . depending upon how long we would stay out on the ice depended upon if we just used a stainless container that once served as the drive up[ at the local bank that they would push out to you and get the deposit or a small pot belly stove . We had found a way to attach a wind breaker and two of us good sit on the box . It took a little ingenuity in order to keep a fire for cooking or we would use a propane heating element for just the heat. I still have the heating element that really produced some BTUs and kept the hands warm enough to use. The stove meant another self contained sled and wood and small pea coal . WE really needed a few more inches of ice when we lit that one up or stand a chance on not getting it back . memories from the past that sort of stay with you .

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Ice fishing has changed drastically in the past 50 years.  When I first started in the late 60's (upstate NY) it was almost all tipups, pike, walleyes, and jumbo perch (in my lake).  I discovered Lake Champlain in the early 1970's and we used to kill the walleyes and saugers, 15 tipups each were allowed and they sold bait by the pint or quart.  Not surprising that fishery is almost dead now.  I attribute that to increased fisherman mobility (sleds and 4 wheelers), sonar, and the 15 tipup rule.  Saugers are almost extinct.

 

50 years ago it was colder and it was a real pain to drill through 2' of ice with a spoon type auger.  When I started fishing Champlain I bought a Jiffy one armed bandit.  A few years later I switched to a 6"swedish type mora or strikemaster hand auger - lugging the jiffy around was a pain.  Nowdays, like many guys I use a smaller auger (lazer 6") with a powerful cordless drill.  I can drill 40-50 holes through a foot of ice on one battery, at about one inch per second.

 

The advent of modern fishing electronics has completely changed the game.  It is literally like a video game now.  (I haven't used tip ups for years, I hate dragging the minnow bucket around.)  A box of small jigs, some maggots is all I need and I catch everything from bass to pike to walleyes and lakers even though I target panfish.  I throw almost everything back except I like a perch dinner.   I have a sophisticated chart type fish finder (Marcum LX-7) and its amazing to watch your little jig go down in 40 feet of water and watch the perch (or whatever) rise up from the bottom to intercept it as it falls.  I move around a lot.  Instead of waiting to see if I get a bite, I can tell pretty quick if there are fish around or not.

 

Yes global warming (excuse me, climate change) has shortened the season but it is easier to get through thinner ice.  Here in upstate NY I can usually fish my local lake (Saratoga) starting around Christmas and the ice generally holds up to mid-March.  Lake George is nearby and is a fantastic ice fishing mecca but it freezes later (if at all).  We have had some early ice-outs in the past few years, and several times the local walleye population took a real hit when the spawning run started before the season closed on March 15.  They are eventually going to move up the closed season to prevent this massacre in future  years.

 

I'm waiting now for solid ice, checking my gear and buying some new goodies in anticipation.

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