Dad’s First Ice Fish!

20171229_150158

For my last day in New England before the journey back the South, I decided to go back to the ole’ honey hole, Dennis Pond, to ensure at least a few fish. My father had been coming with me for the past couple trips, and had yet to pull anything.

We drilled 7 holes, two rows of three and one in the middle. I decided to try my luck at the tip-up dad had given me for Christmakkah and fitted it with about 12ft of monofil 4lb test line, a small spoon/treble and a dead minnow. The plan was to set the tip-up in the middle hole, and jig with our small 1.5″ spoons and some mousses in the surrounding holes to attract fish.

Within ten minutes we had a flag up!

20171229_135728

It was a little chain pickerel.

20171229_135735

Back he went. Felt pretty successful to have my first tip-up catch! So Dad was enthused by this and insisted I set him up his own, which I went ahead and did. In the meantime, I picked a hole adjacent to the one I had the tip up in and jigged the bottom with a couple of mousses. Decided to pound the bottom and see what would come along.

20171229_142731

Plucked up this fat little perch! Did not even realize they had perch in this lake– it’s truly a great multispecies destination. So far we have turned up pickerel, perch, bass, and crappie all from the ice.

In the mean time, Dad was still struggling to turn up a catch. I drilled a new hole adjacent to the one I jigged up the perch in  and we moved his tip-up there.

In the midst of all this, we were freezing. The weather took a plummet this week in CT, and was about 5-degrees, -12 with wind chill. Long underwear, based layers, insulation layers, down jackets, multiple socks — still the cold was piercing through us. We made a smart decision today that I suggest anyone hitting the ice do: we put warmers on the tops and bottoms of our feet between the two sock layers. It just keeps your toes from getting to the falling off point.

Dad was jigging a few holes away when suddenly his tip-up’s flag sprung up and was spinning wildly!

“Fish on!” I shouted toward Dad who gave me a blank stare in return, “Fish on! Fish on!”

He finally seemed to come to his senses when I up and ran to the flag, pointing at it, hoping the fish didn’t tear through the 4lb test line barely holding it on.

20171229_150158

Dad makes his way to the hole and starts reeling on the spool.

“Hand over hand!” I was doing some serious back seat fishing by this point. But, it’s really easy for the fish to get away without proper finesse when you’re using such thin line. He finally drops the tip up, and begins to bring it in, hand over hand, letting the line slide with tension through his fingers when the fish swam.

The fish was tiring out, and it felt pretty good sized. Finally it surfaced!

20171229_150336

Out came a beautiful large mouth bass. Didn’t have the scale on us, but I would eye it at a little over 1lb.

IMG_20171229_164905_557

Released for another day, but not before a bunch of pictures, hugs and high fives. Dad finally caught a fish through the ice!

With that, concluded our last ice fishing trip, and my vacation in the North. Back to the South tomorrow, got a long drive ahead. Gonna miss hitting the ice!

Dennis Pond

20171217_151056

Ice season is here and we are up North for the holidays!

Finally, after a long year of waiting, the ground is covered in snow, and the lakes thick with a layer of ice!

Well… not that thick. Sadly, the last week was freezing cold (twenties and below), but this upcoming week the winter weather has taken a turn for the warmer. The ice is slipping away beneath our feet (all 3.5 inches of it).

At least we were able to get in some lines before the melting began. We stopped by an old favorite, Dennis Pond, to do some jigging.

20171218_114121

Passed a couple of wild turkeys on the way. Always nice to see the local wildlife.

20171217_151102Scenery was breathtaking as usual. Drilled about 6 holes (one every 10-feet, laterally and outward). Got to about 10-ft depth, but the ice was not exactly the safest. At about 3.5 inches at most going toward the center, we did not venture too far out. Water temperature was about 34-degrees F at the surface beneath the ice.

20171217_154349

We used standard jigging techniques, with little red wigglers as bait, and small spoons for lure.

Caught a few little chain pickerel which are always a fun catch. It was pretty cold out though, as you may be able to tell by Dan’s ski coat and 7 pairs of pants.

20171217_15441820171218_121101

Things were getting slushy, quick, though. Our feet were wet and frozen, but between the snowy scenery and continuous action on our ice rods, we stuck around and  sucked it up.

20171218_13063220171218_130606

Patience is a virtue, however! I was finally able to pull a decent sized large mouth.

20171218_134300

Dan was on fire with the pickerel game too.

Overall, a fun day on the ice. Excited to get back to it once temperatures go down next week. Dennis pond is a perfect ice fishing pond!

Dennis Pond

20161225_133838

Again, this is a late post and also took place around Christmas 2016. However, I’m excited to share our more successful ice fishing trip to Dennis Pond in Stafford, CT! But first, here’s how Christmas went for us:

PhotoGrid_1482679614518

Good times were had by all. Anyways…

My dad had long seen the pictures Dan and I post of decent sized panfish so decided to come along and join us this time. The pond was fairly small sized, though there was another group with tip-ups set up on the other side. The ice was a little thin on the outskirts but once again, drilling ever 10 feet gave us the 3.5 inches of confidence we needed to continue.

20161225_123716

We used the same equipment as at Hurds, but this time the addition of some small shiners. We drilled a good amount of holes from the shallower side, toward the middle and in a lateral row from there. Then we began jigging the holes. Once again about 10-15 minutes per hole before moving onto the next. My dad was nervous to walk on the ice, and also has a habit of contradicting every technique I have learned about fishing… which in this case, instead of a spike or two, or a single shiner on a tiny rooster tail or a treble hook, he decided to stick on a trout worm, a piece of corn, a grub etc all on each prong of the treble… Giving the fish the full platter! I can’t say whether or not this is a valid way to go about it (not experienced enough), but I’ll reveal if it worked out a little later!

20161225_125722

First catch of the day was this little bass by me! Ice fishing has a lot of finesse in the reel in and finish because the 3lb test line is so fragile. It’s a lot of fun to fight a fish with such light equipment.

20161225_130016

Dan wanted to pose with my catch, hehe. No luck for the men, yet. We jigged, we chatter, we drank some brews– really enjoyable time. After a while, Dan ended up getting a big tug! And out popped this beautiful creature:

IMG_20161225_140005

A stunning black crappie. The vibrant color pattern was amazing against the white-out background of the ice. Needless to say, Dan was really pleased with himself! Now, it was time for Dad to catch up and get one for his own…. right?  In the mean time, I’m drilling more holes, sweat dripping down my back, trying to one up Dan’s awesome catch. I kept getting nibbles and nibbles and nothing was grabbing…So then I was desperate… jigging, jigging, that same spot, still getting nibbles… And Dan decides to come see what’s up:

20161225_141133

I was still bursting with adrenaline and with Dan stomping over I tried to shout to him “Wait, Stop! Don’t come over! You’ll scare away the fish!” but he couldn’t hear me, kept saying “WHAT!” and he kept on coming… closer… closer….and next thing I know, Dan is literally head over heels in the air. BOOM! He goes crashing into the ice, which by the grace of God himself, did not break through. 3.5 inches, 225lb x gravity… That’s actually some strong ice!

20161225_141131

Though he definitely succeeded in scaring away all the fish, I couldn’t help but laugh my ass off. He was alright! No injuries, somehow didn’t end up beneath the ice. I rated the fall a 7/10…. extremely funny, but too loud. That ended this day, though Dad turned up short.

Dad and I decided to return the next day to test our lucky again.  Just going about the usual business and SUDDENLY I felt the biggest pull of my life… I pulled and pulled and pulled and a HOG of a bass emerged head first from my hole. Being a noob, and overexcited I yanked the line… And guess what? 3lb test line is not going to survive against a flopping over 3lb fish out of water. The line snapped, and that was the story of the one that got away. All wasn’t lost though cause I ended up with something!

20170101_133331

This awesome chain pickerel I pulled up on a shiner ended up being the last catch of the day. These guys have actual pointy little teeth, and they definitely put up a fight! Sadly, Dad’s bait medley was not successful overall, but Dan and I managed to turn up some unique and beautiful fish. Ice fishing was an incredible skill to learn and I really can’t wait until the next winter season. At this point Christmas leave was coming to a close, Dan returned to Korea and I started my new life in Georgia.

Hurds Lake

Forgive me for the lateness of this post– it actually took place over Christmas 2016, but I figure its still worth sharing the adventure. So over Christmas, Dan and I decided to go to CT to visit my parents and family dogs: Jade (Husky), Charles (Shih Tzu), and Rocky (Chihuahua).

Had to include a picture of these guys; they’re too cute. Anyways, be as it was winter time, for the first time Dan and I decided to take up Ice fishing. We scoured the internet for information on what we would need and set off to Cabelas. Hardest part about trying anything new, by far, is looking like an idiot the first time. While we were there, we were lucky enough to meet a gentleman named Rotha (just a friendly customer!) who decided to take us under his wing and give us the low down on what we truly needed, and good spots to go. So we grabbed the equipment based on his suggestions and headed to a place called Hurds Lake in the small town of Somers.

20161223_120340

Oh man, to be back in the midst of good ole fashion rustic American beauty. The lake was mid-sized, and walkable from shore to shore. Surrounded by nothing but forest, it was really breathtaking. Note, its recommended at least 3.5 inches of ice to be considered safe for people to walk on. So as we set out, we drilled a hole with the auger every 10 feet or so to be safe. People actually die by falling through the ice, so it’s no joke. First thing we noticed is a strange loud noises as well echoing throughout the scene. As it turns out, the sound of ice cracking/settling is really unique! Here is a random youtube video where you can hear it. I had no idea what it was until I looked it up!

20161223_095533

We set off digging our holes with our 6-in diameter handheld auger. It basically screwed a hole into the ice. It was a lot easier for Dan to use the auger, being 6’2, because the trick is to spin the handle while applying downward pressure. I, at 5’0, was sweating my ass off. We also wore chains/crampons with our shoes to prevent falling. Winter clothing (parka, insulation layer, base layer, gloves, hoods/hats) were also necessary because it was COLD!

20161223_095940

From there, we used our metal scoop to scoop out all the ice shavings from the hole to prevent it from refreezing or trapping our catches. We had our buckets both to sit on, and to carry our equipment in (including bait). We used a technique called “jigging,” which, similar to the regular fishing technique, you drop a line in with a jig attached (in this case, a really, really small one) to the ground, reel in to a few inches above the bottom, and simple bounce the bait up and down in your hand. The grip is a little different for ice fishing because you want your index finger actually touching the rod portion above the reel for better sensitivity.

20161223_095221

Let me quickly explain the rod. So for ice fishing, generally the lighter weight the better. The rods used for jigging are really small, so we went with an ultralite version. I can’t remember the exact brand, but I will post it up here when I get the chance. Additionally, from Rotha’s advice, we used a 3lb test line. Seems REALLY light, but with ice fishing, the reel in is a lot of finesse and the 3lb line will absolutely alert you when there’s a bite. We used a neon orange color that we could see inside the holes.

 

20161223_121457

There’s a closer snapshot of what it looked like. Jigging itself can be fairly tedious. We spent approximately 10-15 minutes jigging a hole before moving onto the next one, and traveled from close to shore all the way to the center and beyond. We didn’t exactly have the most luck, but as beginners, its expected. For bait, we used spikes and mousees.

20161223_112946

After long last, we pulled out this little perch. Pretty little thing! We called it a day after letting him go, and headed back home. It was a really cool experience learning how to ice fish, and even better that no matter how small, we did in fact snag a fish!

20161223_121530

We felt pretty good about ourselves at the end of the day (though we were total icicles), and couldn’t wait to get out and try it again. Learning a new skill is always so much fun. I would encourage any angler to go out and try ice fishing, and if you’re in the eastern US next winter, let us know, and we’d gladly go out with you and let you use some of our stuff!