If only the end of the season was as good as the beginning

With the warm weather quickly approaching, I decided to fit one more day of ice fishing into my schedule…at Sodus Bay. Bad idea on my end since the fishing hasn’t been that great the second half of the season.

As a result of the frigid temperatures this winter and the wind combined, the ice has thickened to at least 30 inches. With that being said, it’s turned into an arm work out drilling holes with a hand auger. So, it’s only worth it if the fish are biting.

On Friday, March 6, my boyfriend and I were out on the ice for about two hours and neither of us got a bite. Nor did the three tip-ups we had set up. For me, I get antsy when I haven’t had a bite in over 30 minutes so this was a stretch for me to patiently wait for a bite.

Unfortunately for us, we didn’t catch a single fish and that was when I decided I was done fishing Sodus Bay for the rest of the season until next year because it’s not worth it anymore. It was fun while it lasted…in the first half of the season.

How much do you know about fishing?

I created a video featuring the creator of the blog “Indie-nuts.” I know there’s no correlation between the two blogs, but I wanted to test her knowledge of fishing! Check out the video and her blog! The link to her blog is below.

http://indie-nuts.com/what-is-indie-nuts/

It would’ve been a perfect day to have a gas or electric auger

auger tip up

 

Each auger has its pros and cons as to why people choose the one they own. There are three different kind of augers; a hand auger, gas auger and an electric auger.

Each auger resembles a screw with a blade at the end that cuts through the ice when it’s turned. Hand augers have a nob at the top to be held with one hand, while turning the handle with your other hand. A gas and electric auger both operate the same way, except the way they are powered on. An electric auger has a power button to start it and a gas auger has a pulley system that has to be pulled in order to start it.

This past Friday would’ve been the best day to have a gas or electric auger to drill the holes because by the time I got done drilling through 30 inches of ice, which took five minutes for one hole, my arms felt like Jell-o. Lucky for me, I only drilled one hole. Because Zac and I used tips-ups, we had to drill six holes total. One for the fishing camera, two for our fishing poles and three for the tip-ups.

Tip-ups are devices used for ice fishing in which two rods are connected, making an ‘x’ when set up. A wire is attached to a rod that is tripped, raising the orange flag (signal flag) when a fish takes the bait.

“I like hand augers because it cuts down on the weight of equipment when walking with the shanny,” said Zac.

That day would’ve been the perfect day to have a gas or electric auger because it would’ve also cut down on the time we spent drilling holes. Overall, it took about 30 minutes to drill all six holes which could’ve been spent fishing.

Do you necessarily have to have a snowmobile/four wheeler to go ice fishing?

No, you don’t have to have a snowmobile/four wheeler in order to go ice fishing. However, they are a great asset to have.

At the beginning of the season when the ice is still forming and thickening, it’s only about two to three inches thick when it’s safe for people to be on (or at least that’s when I think it’s safe to go fishing). At that point, it’s not recommended that anyone bring out their snowmobiles or four wheelers on the ice. Usually, I would recommend waiting until there is at least six to eight inches of solid black ice until bringing out recreational vehicles, just to be on the safe side.

Every year at the beginning and end of the season, my boyfriend and I always walk across the ice to our fishing spot with spikes on our boots, pulling the shanny behind us because the ice is too thin to ride on.

The snowmobiles/four wheelers come in handy when your fishing spot is miles away especially when several feet of snow collect on top of the ice.

Last year when the season first started, my boyfriend and I had to walk about two hours to get to the fishing spot we wanted. Without the snowmobile, that’s a decision you have to make if you want to walk that far or not.

When you think about it, there are plenty of people who don’t own recreational vehicles who have to walk all season long to go fishing. At some point, most people end up walking when they go fishing.

Reasons why not having a snowmobile/four wheeler is beneficial: you have less to load and unload every time, when there is too much snow most four wheelers can’t drive through it without getting stuck, you don’t have to worry about normal maintenance and towards the end of winter you have no problem walking since you’ve been used to it all winter versus those who rode to their destination all season.

No perch to be found in Sodus Bay

Although I haven’t been ice fishing in a few weeks, I’ve heard of many people who have went fishing at Sodus Bay and have been unsuccessful lately. Besides being very busy with mid-semester work, one of the reasons I haven’t been ice fishing is because the past few times I went, the fish weren’t active.

Last weekend at breakfast I overheard a conversation at a table to the left of me. It was two men talking about ice fishing, so instantly their conversation drew my attention. One of the men asked the other if he went ice fishing at the bay and he replied, “no I’m taking the day off because the fish haven’t been biting lately, but my son is fishing at Cayuga Lake”. The other guy replied that he went out on the bay and gave it a try but caught “dinks”.

That same weekend, a family friend went ice fishing on Oneida Lake because he tried Sodus Bay all week and didn’t catch any keepers.

Zac’s friend went ice fishing this past Friday at Sodus Bay and was on the ice all day. He said that he only caught two small perch over the course of the entire day. On Saturday, my best friend Kayla also went ice fishing on the bay and she said she sat out on the ice for four hours straight and didn’t get one bite!

Talking with my boyfriend as we tried figuring out why the fish haven’t been active, we came to the conclusion that since it’s been such a cold winter and Lake Ontario has started to freeze, the fish have no need to move to the bay. We figured that the perch are staying in the deeper water since the lake is just as cold and starting to freeze also. When you think about it, it actually makes sense as to why the fish haven’t been biting. There are probably very few perch left in the bay if they’re staying out in the deeper water.

Starting them out young

ryanwithfish

My brother’s first perch!

ryanfishing

The idea of starting a youngster ice fishing sounds ideal to get them at a pro level by the time they are in their teens or even earlier. This way they will have many years under their belts and have caught several fish.

Last year was my first time bringing my brother out on the ice and it wasn’t what I expected.

I was hoping for a good fishing day and that we would catch many fish for him to have the full experience.

Like most young children who get a thrill out of trying something new, my brother was ecstatic at the idea of going ice fishing with me. He loved the idea of riding a four wheeler across the ice, sitting in an ice shanny, catching fish and just being out on the ice all day.

That morning, I bundled him up in all his gear; hat, scarf, gloves, snow pants, coat and boots. He was all set to go.

When we arrived at Sodus Bay, we got on the four wheeler and rode out to our fishing spot. As soon as everything was set up, I handed him his little fishing pole. The whole idea of ice fishing sounded great to him at this point.

But then, we had to play the waiting game for a bit until fish were attracted to our lures. Like most fishermen, the anticipation while waiting for a bite is the boring part. Most seven-year-old’s don’t have a long attention span to sit and wait for a bite. So, he quickly became bored.

I had to explain to him that sometimes it takes time for the fish to see your bait if they aren’t in the area where we dropped our line. I also mentioned that all the noise we made above the water from drilling holes, riding the four wheeler and setting up the shanny could’ve scared the fish away.

Eventually he did get his first bite and caught a small perch. To him it was the most exciting thing reeling it in until it came time to get it off the hook. He was timid actually seeing the fish out of the water in front of him. I got the fish off the hook and wanted him to get his picture taken for a memory. He had no interest in holding the fish, especially not with bare hands. He courageously decided he wanted to hold the fish, but with his gloves on.

From there on out it wasn’t so bad. He held fish after fish, but only with gloves on.

That day, he only caught about four or five fish but to him that was plenty because he got bored doing the same thing over and over.

After the excitement of catching a few fish all he wanted to do was run around the ice and play with everything in the shanny.

Because he got so antsy after an hour on the ice, I question bringing him out again this year because he really wants to go again. But then again, my thought is that he might start to enjoy it and understand that sometimes it’s a waiting game and exactly why they call it fishing not catching.

What goes on underwater anyway?

Have you ever wondered what it looks like underwater or what the fish are doing down there?

I’ve wondered those exact things until this past winter break when my boyfriend got an underwater camera for Christmas. I’ve had a visual of what I thought it’s like when the fish bite your hook, but it was nothing compared to actually seeing it on the camera.

The camera will go as deep as the cord will let you. The deepest we’ve had the camera was about 45 feet. Even though the camera is in that deep of water, the depth doesn’t hinder visibility. The camera is clear until you get massive amounts of snow on the ice causing it to look like a gray scale or completely blacked out. However, that has only happened to us once this season.

The normal vision of the camera is greenish. You can see plants, the bottom of the lake, fish and the action going on down there.

The camera has an app that has to be downloaded on your cellphone which creates its own WiFi and sends the video directly to your phone for viewing.

The first time we saw it, we were amazed at what we were seeing. As soon as you drop your line in the water you can instantly see fish swim over to it. A nice feature the camera has is that it can spin 360 degrees. So, sometimes when we see fish instantly take off we rotate the camera to see what’s nearby scaring the fish.

Now that we have the camera, we most certainly utilize it to the fullest. It’s like we sometimes forget what it was like to fish without the underwater camera because every time we go we use it.

Ice fishing necessities

Heater Shanny

The frigid winter temperatures that have been worse this month, have slowly decreased the number of people out ice fishing. The extreme weather conditions call for extra equipment if you want to stay warm fishing all day.

I can’t even begin to think about sitting on the ice, on a bucket to fish, especially with temperatures dropping below zero degrees lately. Those are the people slowly diminishing from the scene each week.

“I sit on a bucket when I fish, but because it’s been so cold I haven’t gone fishing in the past couple weeks,” said Kayla Case.

I would highly recommend having a fishing shelter because they include comfortable cushioned seats, they have a sled type bottom with plenty of room for gear, you can attach the provided string or a towing bar for easy moving and it keeps you warmer than being outside in the blistering wind.

Yes, it still does get cold in the fishing shelter which is why I highly recommend getting a propane heater. They can be pricy, but worth the cost because they can last for years. Plus, the tanks are two for five dollars at Walmart. Not too bad if you want to stay warm for a day of fishing.

Common clothing that you will see people wearing when ice fishing are bib overhauls, a winter coat, insulated boots, hat, gloves and face masks. In my opinion, all of those things are essential because you never know when you might run out of heat and they’re good to have when trekking to your fishing spot.

“I wear gloves, a mask, a hat, overalls, a jacket, long johns and insulated boots,” said Kayla.

I would even recommend using hand and foot warmers because they do come in handy. Another thing you can use your hand warmers for is to provide your propane tank with heat so it doesn’t freeze while sitting on the ice. You just place it in the bottom of the tank sleeve and it prevents the outside from freezing.

“I’d rather not be in a tiny little space with no room to move. I like being out in the open,” said Kayla.

Although some people enjoy sitting out in the open while on the ice, I would highly recommend purchasing the equipment listed above for those of you who have stopped ice fishing because of the weather.

Take me back to the end of winter break

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The fish I haven’t been catching for the past two weekends in a row, have me reminiscing on the end of winter break when I caught several fish of different kinds.

Where we fished was a new spot to me, but an old spot to my boyfriend since it was one of the first places he ever went ice fishing. This spot was really popular and well known because there were many people already fishing there when we arrived. I was curious to see what kind of fish I would catch since I heard there were many different kinds of fish in this spot.

Of course I can’t share the fishing spot because one of my rules as a fisher is to never tell others where you’re fishing just in case someone tries to steal your spot.

Since we were closer to shore and the water wasn’t that deep, we instantly saw many sunfish attempting to bite the hooks and minnows that were way too big for their mouths. Not even ten minutes after I had my minnow in the water, I saw a huge large mouth bass. I have never caught one as big as the one I saw, not even during the summer.

I tried to hook the bass too soon because it put the whole lure in its mouth and dropped the minnow as I went to hook it. So, I missed it. I was almost in tears because I missed it. I tried to think optimistically that the fish would come back if it really wanted my minnow. And, it did and I caught it!

From there on out, it was one bass after another, after another. Between me and my boyfriend, we caught at least eight bass in an afternoon. In between the bass, we each caught some perch that were a decent size and worth keeping.

Since the water was shallow, I knew to expect pike swimming around. So, I kept an eye out for one on the fishing camera. A small one approached Zac’s minnow and then attacked it. He caught it and it was his first pike of the season. I couldn’t have been happier for him.

Fishing days like these are what I miss the most when you’ve had a crappy few weeks of ice fishing.

An extra day to fish?

Any extra day of ice fishing I can get I gladly take. Since there weren’t any classes on Feb. 6  for professional development day, I took it upon myself to use the day wisely and go ice fishing. I headed home the night before so that I could get up as early as possible to get ready which was around 7 a.m.

Turns out, I was so exhausted from the week that I slept in until 11 a.m.

“I can still go fishing for the second half of the day, maybe the fish will be biting before dark” was my initial thought.

I hurried, got dressed and loaded the truck up only to realize when I arrived at the bay, that I completely forgot about how much snow we had received all week and from the previous weekend. There was at least a foot of snow on top of the ice. Being the risk takers that me and my boyfriend are, we decided to try and ride the four wheeler out since our snowmobile was still broke from the past two years.

Immediately after getting on the ice, we hit a huge bump where the ice had formed and collided with tree branches that usually are on shore. We got stuck. We revved up the engine and pushed our way through it. Then, we noticed the snow got progressively deeper since it was fresh powder and there weren’t any other tracks.

Trying to move forward to turn around, we got stuck again. This time, the snow was stuck underneath the engine and the frame, and the four wheeler was sitting on top of all the snow incapable of moving further. While my boyfriend steered and moved the handle bars as he laid on the gas, I helped push to dig our way out. After about 10 minutes of pushing and shoveling around the four wheeler, we finally got out of the pile of snow we were buried in.

If we decided to fish we would’ve had to walk out about four miles through the treacherous mound of snow up to the middle of my shin, which would take at least an hour to get there while pulling the shelter. We decided to call it a day and not fish. However, we somehow had to get back to land which was about 400 meters away.

On the way back, we would occasionally get stuck and have to continue the same method of steering, revving the engine and pushing. We finally made it back to land after an hour. I truly wanted to fish that day, but couldn’t bring myself to walk that far in the cold since I’ve done it before and dreaded it once I got out there and realized I would have to walk back two hours to get to shore at some point.

Call it luck, but the same night, my boyfriend finished fixing the snowmobile and got it running so we could take it out on the ice Saturday and Sunday.

The start of our tracks on the fresh snow over the ice with the four wheeler. Needless to say, we didn't make it far which is why the fishing shantey is left behind for the second trip back.

Tracks where the four wheeler got stuck. Needless to say, we didn’t make it far which is why the fishing shantey is left behind for the second trip back.