Monday, December 23, 2013

Ice Fishing before Christmas

By Spider Rybaak
A couple happy ice fishermen.

The seriously cold weather we’ve had over the past couple of weeks put a hurtin’ on a lot of folk’s faith in global warming. Indeed, cousin Staash was about to use the pages of his autographed copy of Al Gore’s “Earth in the Balance” to fire up his pot-bellied stove. Saturday’s unseasonably high temperatures stopped him in his tracks and he returned it to its place of honor on his book shelf (that’s not so honorable considering he’s only got one book).

The extreme cold followed by the warm spell created a situation you don’t find around these parts very often: “Ice fishing before Christmas,” in the words of Jim Denson. He spent the better part of Sunday morning on Oneida Lake’s Big Bay with sons Kyle and Ryan.

Their efforts were rewarded with a mess of bluegill and pumpkinseeds, punctuated with several hawg crappies. All were caught on tiny ice jigs tipped with spikes (a gentleman’s word for maggots).

Ryan claimed the ice was 3 inches thick, safe enough, according to the DEC’s Web site (, to support groups of ice fishermen lined up in single file.

They weren’t the only ones courageous enough to brave the early ice. Indeed, a larger number was out there on Saturday. But the following day’s warmer weather discouraged a lot from returning. By Sunday afternoon, the number of anglers was down to about a dozen, but for everyone leaving, new guys were coming out.

Getting out on the bay from DEC’s Toad Harbor Fishing access site on Shaw Drive (at the end of Toad Harbor Road, off NY 49, West Monroe), was too dangerous over the weekend because of soft spots. Most guys paid to park in the private lots of commercial operations like Big Bay Marina, on Camic Road (off CR 37), and other  businesses in the neighborhood, and skirted the ice looking for high spots before heading out.

If the warm spell continues, the ice will probably be too dangerous by Tuesday.  Be careful.

Jim Denson (center) and sons Kyle (left) and Ryan
with Sunday's catch.

Sunday afternoon on Big Bay.

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