Sunday, February 12, 2012

Coffin Meet Nail

There is a good chance that Saturday's ice fishing trip will be our last in Connecticut until next season.  The conditions at spot number one were much weaker and inconsistent than anticipated and it turned us around 100 yards from our vehicles.  There were three inches of poor quality grey ice, which was only going to worsen as we neared the sun-baked northern end of the lake.  While walking back with our heads hung low, we warned a gentleman who was venturing out alone.  He wore no ice picks and carried no spud bar, but kept going anyway.

Our day instantly changed from a serious outing to a more communal gathering on a tiny, albeit safe, body of water.  Two friends were already set up as we walked on the backup plan much later than we're used to.  The couple-acre pond looked well-covered with their 12 tip-ups already, but somehow we managed to fit in 18 more.  Another three friends showed up soon afterwards and packed in 18 additional traps.  It was a comical minefield of baits and we joked how any fish in there had a better chance of getting snagged than eating.  We kept our expectations low and turned the outing into an Irish Wake of sorts for the dying ice season.  The group drank, ate and laughed well, all the while keeping busy tending flags set off by small to mid-sized northern pike and chain pickerel. 

Saturday's circus-like atmosphere was a fitting end to Connecticut's dismal year of ice fishing, but I am not putting the gear away just yet.  I'm looking forward to a trip to Maine in early March and I can't rule out an Adirondacks run, which I've been putting off for way too long.  It's mid-February, so there's still a chance that Mother Nature can get her act together for a late-innings cold snap, however unlikely  The long term forecast features more of the same mild weather and ice-killing rain.  Thankfully anglers in Connecticut and across the region have plenty of fishing-related options to keep us busy this time of year.  Block Island codfish, Farmington River brown trout, or western New York steelhead all sound like enticing opportunities right about now!

This ice anchor shows off a core sample of the weak ice remaining. 
Matt's biggest bait, a dead fallfish, was taken for a ride by a pike that hung him up on a log.

The camaraderie of ice fishing was on full display Saturday. 

Aaron scored the best fish of the day with this healthy northern pike

These three guys checked the ice with an axe before jigging up a pile of crappie next to the open water.

Our mild winter in a nut shell. 

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