Dad’s First Ice Fish!

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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!

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It was a little chain pickerel.

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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.

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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.

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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!

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

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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!

Ice Hunting

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Woke up to some freezing temps, and a layer of snow in Connecticut. Being early in the winter season, not all bodies of water are locked up yet, and some are thicker than others. I decided to take measurements into my own hands, and head out to see if I could find my own “honey pot.”

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Of course I brought my partner with me, who was very excited to experience her first real snow. First stop, a small lake on Gulf Road, across from Soapstone Mountain access lot.

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To measure the ice, I dig a hole with my auger ever ten steps, then scoop out the slush. I place my tip-up spool at the bottom of the ice, and measure up. The spool begins on the 15″ mark, so I just count from there.  Unfortunately, freezing rain put about an inch of water over the ice and it was incredibly uneven. Didn’t have much luck here.

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So we moved onto Hurd’s Lake which was shrouded in an incredible and blinding fog. Again, it was layered in rainwater, so I stayed fairly close to the edge. If you look at the picture, it actually looks like open water, but it wasn’t. There was a good 4-inches of ice locked up beneath the slushy top. Again, though, no luck here.

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Finally, just by nature of wanted to catch a fish after skunking at all those different lakes, I just headed to my old favorite honey pot, Dennis Pond. The pond itself was covered in snow, without any sign of human tracks on it. Made a trail of holes 10 feet apart out toward the middle, and two rows of two holes across. Ice was easily 3.5-inches in all the spots I tested.

I began jigging with 2-lb test line and little red wigglers.

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Brook was excited by all the snow and ice and just being outside in general, so naturally, she completely went berserk, getting a huge case of the zoomies. She ran around like a wild animal all over the ice, much to my disdain, because the ice was untested. She ended up with her two hind legs in a hole and I had to put her in time out in the car to thaw out the rest of the time.

But in the mean time, I did manage to pull out a chain pickerel from one of the holes, successfully ending my skunk streak.

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Had to pack up the rods and reels and head home after the sun went down and my feet turned into popsicles. Hoping to find another honey pot in the future, still searching!

Dennis Pond

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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

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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

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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:

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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.

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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!

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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.

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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:

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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:

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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!

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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!

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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.