Sunday, February 25, 2018

The End

It doesn't feel right to be putting away hardwater gear in February, but here we are. For all the ice we built up in January, it withered away rather abruptly over the last two weeks. Not realizing it was my final trip of the season at the time, I have since found solace that it happened on a lake I hadn't fished in three years, spent with a classic crew catching quality fish. 

The entire day was overcast and never fell below freezing. After a slow start, there were spurts of flags throughout the morning and afternoon. The best wave of action came just before 11:00 a.m., when we had a number of nice fish come topside within a span of a few minutes. By days end we caught and released some hefty smallies and took home a pile of fat yellow perch for the skillet. A steady rain chased us off a little earlier than we would have liked, but it was a hell of a trip and a great way to close out the ice season.

A big reason why I love ice fishing is the unknown. I know that I'll be able to fish my favorite streams and beaches come spring, summer and fall, but it's far from a guarantee that I'll walk on water each winter at my favorite lakes and ponds. This ice season started out cold enough that I thought it could go until April and now I'm dusting off the fly gear. You play the hand you're dealt...

Tuesday, February 13, 2018

Gray Day, Big Lake

This past Saturday was one of the most fun days I've had on the ice in a quite a while. Above all, it was the first time in six years that I ice fished with the man that got me hooked on hardwater, my Uncle Derrick. Good friends rounded out the rest of the crew, and comfortable temps and a decent bass and perch bite put the icing on the cake. With the up and down weather lately, who knows what the rest of the winter holds, but I'll savor this trip for some time. 

Monday, February 5, 2018

Make It Count

Despite a January thaw and a couple of downpours since, ample ice remains on many Connecticut lakes and ponds. It goes to show just how cold it was here in late December when we made the bulk of our ice that we're hanging on to now. After consecutive weak winters, it's refreshing to see photos of things that used to be a given--like smallies and humpback yellows from Candlewood and big browns being iced at East Twin.

I have made it out three times so far this season. Not nearly as much as a younger me with no kids and a flexible job could live with, but the right amount of time for my current situation. I spent two of those days targeting northern pike on a familiar lake and one chasing trout in New York on a body of water I had been meaning to try for years. Each trip was an adventure spent with good company; that's how I prefer my ice outings.

I have taken a couple weekends off in a row now building up the time bank for a potential run up to Lake George for lake trout. Of course a foot of snow just fell there and another foot on the way later this week. That is a likely deal breaker that would keep me on local ice this weekend; a bit of a consolation prize, but you gotta make it count. I'm ready to go wherever that may be. 

Thin ice: didn't need an auger this trip

Beer & Brats: allstar ice combo
Last fish of 2017...a healthy northern pike released to become a trophy (photo credit: Jeff Rubino)

A little meat to sweeten the deal
Nice and toasty over 93 feet of water

First fish of 2018...a sharp looking brown trout from the depths. 

Ice is nice