Friday, January 31, 2014

Ice Conditions Unsafe on Parts of Lake Winnipesaukee and other Large Lakes

New Hampshire Fish and Game Department officials warn that this winter's uneven temperatures and high winds have affected ice formation, particularly on the state's larger lakes. Fish and Game is urging those heading out onto the ice to exercise caution as they do so. A large number of anglers are expected to head out onto the state's lakes and ponds this weekend to participate in the Meredith Rotary Ice Fishing Derby (February 8-9, 2014).

A recent aerial survey of Lake Winnipesaukee by the N.H. Civil Air Patrol revealed treacherous ice conditions on some parts of the big lake, including an area of open water near Welch Island. Note the aerial photo at right of Lake Winnipesaukee ice conditions, taken on January 25, 2014.

"Caution is in order for those going out onto the ice, especially on the large lakes," said Fish and Game Lt. James Goss. "Don't let the cold temperatures fool you – some areas that have traditionally been safe for ice anglers and other outdoor recreationists are not safe this year. We are urging people to check the ice thickness for yourself before you go out onto any frozen waterbody."

Because of the unpredictable ice conditions, it is not advisable to drive vehicles onto the ice, Goss said. Those on foot should carefully assess ice safety before venturing out by using an ice chisel or auger to determine ice thickness and condition. Continue to do this as you get further out on to the ice, because the thickness of the ice will not be uniform all over the waterbody.

Fisheries Biologist Don Miller notes, "Even though the winter of 2013-2014 has been cold so far, ice conditions on Lake Winnipesaukee are highly variable. One area of note where extreme caution should be exercised extends from Lakeshore Park in Gilford, east to Welch Island and across to Long Island, Moultonborough. The area extends south to Diamond and Rattlesnake islands and west to the Gilford shore line. This includes the vicinity commonly referred to as "the Broads." While caution should be exercised on the ice at all times, this area of Winnipesauke has seen very poor ice conditions consistently over the past few years. Extreme caution should be used in this area."

As shown in the aerial photo, even travel along the shore line south of Lakeshore Park is not recommended.

Though all ice is potentially dangerous, the U.S. Army Cold Regions Research & Engineering Laboratory in Hanover, N.H., offers a "rule of thumb" on ice thickness: There should be a minimum of six inches of hard ice before individual foot travel, and eight to ten inches of hard ice for snow machine or All-Terrain Vehicle travel.

Keep in mind that thick ice does not always mean safe ice. It is possible for ice to be thick, but not strong, because of varying weather conditions. Weak ice is formed when warming trends break down ice, then the slushy surface re-freezes. Be especially careful of areas with current, such as inlets, outlets and spring holes, where the ice can be dangerously thin.
Tips for staying safe on the ice include:
  • Stay off the ice along the shoreline if it is cracked or squishy. Don’t go on the ice during thaws.
  • Watch out for thin, clear or honeycombed ice. Dark snow and ice may also indicate weak spots.
  • Small bodies of water tend to freeze thicker. Rivers and lakes are more prone to wind, currents and wave action that weaken ice.
  • Don’t gather in large groups or drive large vehicles onto the ice.
  • If you do break through the ice, don’t panic. Move or swim back to where you fell in, where you
    know the ice was solid. Lay both arms on the unbroken ice and kick hard. This will help lift your body onto the ice. A set of ice picks can help you pull yourself out if you do fall through the ice; wear them around your neck or put them in an easily accessible pocket. Once out of the water, roll away from the hole until you reach solid ice.
Ice safety is also very important for snowmobilers. Don't assume a trail is safe just because it exists; ask about trail conditions at local snowmobile clubs or sporting goods shops before you go.
To download a brochure from Fish and Game called "Safety on Ice - Tips for Anglers," visit

Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Coyote Hunt 1/25/14

Another day has come to head to the woods in search of a predator that lives here and hopefully give my son his first crack at taking the elusive coyote down. The conditions were not that favorable as the air temperatures were in the teens, had cloudy skies with threatening snow and the winds were whipping fairly good across the swamp. We setup the same location as the previous week in hopes that now with the snow cover, we have an advantage of seeing them coming across the swamp that much easier. As we were walking in, we had crossed numerous areas that had coyote tracks in the snow so we know that they are definitely around the area and just need to be able to fool them into coming and taking a look at our setup. We setup the blind amongst the brush and pines, set out the Mojo Critter decoy and also the Primos electronic caller and retreated to our blind in hopes of a critter coming in. With the wind and cooler temperatures, this wasn't fairing well for my son as he was getting cold fairly quickly and was able to tough it out for an hour. As with deer hunting the wind, the area usually doesn't yield any sightings of quarry so once that hour had passed, he was ready to head out and warm himself up. There is still another month and a half of the season to go yet and the mating season upon us, may move down the swamp a bit and give a different location a try.
Until next time, keep them critters running...

Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Ice fishing Massachusetts 1/25/14

Was nice to see that the week was going to be very cold again and what that does is freeze up all of the shorelines of local ponds that had opened up from the previous weeks warm weather. With that, I was able to get onto a pond that we haven't been to in a couple of years just because it is the last one to freeze up and the first one to open up. Upon arriving at the pond, there were cloudy skies, a stiff wind and the air temps were in the upper 30's. There weren't any other anglers out there and you could also see that there were no holes drilled in the ice anywhere I was fishing. This particular pond has some very nice crappies in it up to 14-15 inches in length. For a small body of water, that is fairly impressive and you usually don't see that other than in bigger bodies of water. I generally fish this pond where others generally don't go and the water depth there is around 20 feet of water. After drilling a number of holes in a few locations, there was only a few that consistently held fish for the time that I was out there. The bait of choice was the Northland Mooska tungsten jig in the 1/57 oz size and tipped that with a couple of Euro Larvae for added enticement. Generally from fishing these depths you can gauge the size of the fish by where it is swimming in the water column. If they were near the bottom to two feet off, these generally were smaller crappies and more times than not, sunfish. But, when the marks on the electronics flash at 14 feet, you quickly reel your bait to that level and the fish that you are catching there, are always the bigger varieties of crappies and the biggest ones that were caught were the 13 inch size. You usually won't catch a lot of them but the ones you catch are definitely the funniest and those are the ones that keep you coming back. The real key to catching these bigger fish always comes back to fishing and using the electronics to see where the fish are at because without that, you would miss a good quantity of these nicer fish.
So until next time, TIGHT LINES


Friday, January 24, 2014

Catching fishing while others are not while ice fishing

Many anglers when you talk with them as they come off of the ice, the first question that always starts a conversation, how did you do? More times than not when fishing for pan-fish, the response comes back, they weren’t biting very well today. In reality, the fish were there and willing to bite if the right bait and presentation were presented to them.

This article is going to give some helpful tips and hints on how to locate, entice and catch these fish that do supposedly not want to bite. Fishing here in New England, and being from Minnesota, there are many tactics that we use there that are super productive here in New England and some of these just have not made it here to the angler.

To start, most if not all ponds and lakes here in New England have some sort of pan-fish in them. Not all species are found in these waters as some waters may only have sunfish, or maybe some have sunfish and perch and then there are others that have a good population of all the pan-fish, sunfish, perch, crappies and white perch which are the most commonly sought after pan-fish.
The techniques that we are going to be talking about work for any and all of the species and will be caught in the same hole as you are fishing. If there is one fish that you only want to target on a particular trip, then as you are catching the other types of fish, you will need to keep moving until you find an area that supports the fish that you are seeking.
The key piece of equipment that we like to use and never go to the ice without is a flasher type piece of electronics. There are a variety of manufacturers on the market these days, Vexilar, Humminbird, Marcum and others as well. They all do the same job of showing you fish and also showing you where and what your bait is doing around the fish and with that, which company you are more comfortable with using, that would be the choice for you.
Don’t get stuck into what a number of anglers do, and that is once they drill their holes and get setup, that is where they park themselves and they don’t move. To be successful in catching fish through the ice you will need to be mobile and follow the fish instead of being the one that sits and waits for the fish to come to them. Of course at certain times of the day you will sit in one spot because they are aggressively feeding, but to keep catching throughout your time out there you will need to be on the move.
What a typical day is for us is that we drill anywhere from 50 to 100 holes throughout an area and that allows you to cover many depth variations as well as different structure on the bottom. By having this many holes, you would be able to take your electronics and place it in the hole and if you see no activity, move on to the next. This way you are targeting active fish and not jigging a hole that has nothing hanging around.
Once you start finding those active holes, the next key feature that we use to catch fish is keeping the jig very small. In the cold water, fish have a tendency of biting much more finicky than the warmer waters and we have also seen that small baits produce so much better and fish size generally goes up with these smaller baits.
The jigs that we have been using this winter are the Northland Tackle Mooska Tungsten jigs in the #16 hook 1/57 oz size. Here in New England we are not allowed to use lead so these tiny tungsten jigs work very well and show up on the electronics very well in deep water. By using a loop knot this will allow the jig to hang horizontally and look more natural in the water as well.
Another little trick that we have implemented this winter season is using the Euro Larvae colored worm live bait grubs. These need to be ordered online as we have not been able to find them here but after bringing them back from MN this winter, these little grubs have been a fantastic attractant to our jigs. These grubs come in a few different colors and the best combination we have been finding is a red and white or yellow hooked onto the jig.
To give you an idea as to how our presentation goes, once we find that active hole, we have our electronics setup and can see the red lines of where the fish are in the water column. Watching our jig on the screen dropping down to that location, keep the bait a bit above the red lines and start working the jig and you will see the active fish move up towards your presentation and the fish is on.
The main points that we are trying to get across here is don’t get stuck in one hole and keep moving to find those active holes with fish. Trust your electronics as these are your eyes to what is going on underneath the sheet of ice. Also, keeping your jigs very small and tipping them with bait, this will make your presentations much more attractive to even the finickiest fish that is down there.
Hopefully you can get a pointer or two out of this article and the next time that you are coming off of the ice and get ask that question, “How were they biting?”, with a grin you can say, pretty good today.
Good luck and may your lines always be tight.

Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Ice fishing Massachusetts 1/19/14

Well the warm weather really has done a number on our ice conditions on most or the lakes in our area by rotting the shoreline ice and creating open water and making it impossible for getting onto the ice. If you can find a location to get onto the ice, there is a good change that there will be 6 inches of solid ice once you getting past that shoreline. Fortunate for us we have a lake or two that has shoreline that never sees the sun so these areas are generally the first ones to freeze and the last to thaw out. So I checked one of these and the shoreline was still frozen solid so that lake was our target for a morning of fishing. Conditions for the day were partly cloudy after the day before snowstorm, 26 degree air temperatures and winds that picked up as the morning went along. Upon getting to the lake, we were the only ones there and that allowed us to setup on the prime area that we hoped that would yield some nice bass and also get into a sunfish bite. For the bass we generally will run tip-ups and had them placed anywhere from 5 to 22 feet of water and for this outing the 10 foot depth seemed to be the most productive. The beginning of the morning had many flags flying with bass and pickerel, then the winds picked up and it seemed to die off for a bit and then the sun started coming out which made the bite turn on again. The bass that we caught were all about the same size and there weren't any big fish caught but having fish bite and be caught is better than nothing. I drilled a number of holes around the area at various depths and was hoping to find some of the sunfish that live in the lake. But after fishing all around, there wasn't any aggressive sunfish willing to bite but with the flags flying, really didn't care that they weren't biting. For a short morning run we had a great time out there and if you are persistent in locating a place to fish, it will always pay off. Tight lines until next time.


Tuesday, January 21, 2014

Coyote Hunt 1/18/14

The main hunting season for most species has come to an end with the beginning of the New Year. But there are still a few species that have open seasons and those would be the coyote and fox. This time of year is prime time for varmint hunting as with the cold and snow, these critters are spending more time looking for food and if you can get your decoy and calls setup to look and sound inviting; this will make for a productive hunt. In our location when a youth turns 12 they are able to go hunting as long as they go with a licensed adult. Also, when doing this, there can only be one weapon between the two of you and with this makes for a fun hunt as this will be my sons first real experience in actually hunting. There is a location where I deer hunt that gives a great advantage for sight of placing a decoy that the animal can see a long ways from three different directions. So Saturday morning came and we were up early so that we could get into place as it was getting light out. Without any snow cover, it will make spotting a coyote a bit more difficult as their fur blends perfectly into the dead grass of the salt marsh swamp that we were in. With the blind setup, the decoy placed and the call set out, we were ready to see if we are going to have any action. We had been calling for about 30 minutes and the first flock of crows came in and they hung around for 10 minutes or so circling the decoy and calling sounds before moving off. After about an hour my son spotted a coyote skirting us to the left and not sure if he wasn't comfortable with the setup or if he seen movement in our blind, but when we saw him he was trotting to our left and wasn't going to slow down. So we took a quick running shot at him and that was a miss as he kept running towards the field and then shortly later seen him running along the edge of the swamp further down. We called for another half hour or so but nothing was going to come in so packed our gear up and headed home. That was a very exciting time for my son's first time in the field actually hunting and seeing and taking a shot at an animal and he is ready to go back again this next weekend.

Wednesday, January 15, 2014

Ice Fishing Massachusetts 1/12/14

Since our ice season is so short here in New England, you really need to drop everything and take advantage of the few weeks that we have to fish on the ice here. Winter break for college is over and we had to move my daughter back to school but we brought the ice gear along and planned on fishing around where her school is. The temperatures are still highly mild and partly cloudy skies helps when the sun is shining but the winds just will not let up and gusts at 20 mph makes for hard fishing on glare ice. We drove to the first location only to find open shorelines and with the winds; there was actually a current that you could see moving underneath the ice. Took off for the next location which is a river system with a dam in between 2 pools and we ran into the same situation as the shorelines were open and you could actually see where the current was in the river channel as that was open as well. It was time to head back to our area as I am not really sure that this location made a lot of ice as this weather really is doing a number and who knows if that ice will ever be fish-able again this winter. The next stop was at a small pond that has big crappie in it and as we checked the shorelines there, it was open a little and you could easily get onto the ice, but my son was very leery about going onto this pond, plus without any snow cover it makes for a long drag pulling the sleds to the pond. After chopping a couple of holes along the shoreline there is definitely enough ice as I was seeing 5-6 inches but if he isn't comfortable, not going to go onto there. So we headed back to where I had fished the previous day and upon getting to the location, was very surprised not seeing another vehicle parked there. We checked the shoreline and it was open a bit but there is a swimming dock that isn't pulled all the way onto shore and that is what we used to get onto the ice. After drilling a hole and seeing good 6 inches, we were comfortable and proceeded to the location where I was catching the crappies the day before. There was still water on top of the ice and you can definitely see that the rains, wind and warm temperatures are really raising havoc with the ice surface. Also, any previous holes and ice cracks, you wanted to avoid those as they were wearing very hard and opening from the conditions. When we finally found the area that I was fishing previously, we dropped the electronics in and the fish were there and waiting for us. My son likes setting out a number of tip-ups as well so we proceeded to setting a line from deep water up into the shallower shoreline. The tip-ups were not that productive for the day as only a few jumbo perch were caught but made for an interesting afternoon trying to run across the glare ice getting to a flag. With the wind blowing so hard we wanted to set up the new Clam Vista shelter and once we had it anchored to the ice, have to say that this is one well-built shelter. It held up very well with the strong winds coming across the ice and was really nice to get out of the wind and when the sun would shine, warmed right up without having any heater on. The crappie action was none stop for quite some time and the electronics screen was lit up with fish and was a lot of fun watching my my catches fish after fish. There was a mixture of crappies, sunfish and white perch and as it got to later afternoon, was thinking that the bite would get better but it actually went the other way. The fish were still down there but they were getting more and more finicky so that was a clue that it was time to head out. It was a very productive day and not sure what the weather is going to do to our ice here, but I have a feeling that we will be making a trip to New Hampshire this coming weekend as the ice up there is more stable after this weather.

Tuesday, January 14, 2014

Ice Fishing Massachusetts 1/11/14

Since the snow has finally melted down from the previous storms and getting around the lake ice is much simpler, wanted to hit a local pond in search of deep water crappies. In fact the weather now has gone the other way as it is way to warm for a January day with air temperatures in the upper 50's, cloudy skies and rain showers off and on. The top of the ice was very sloppy with standing water all around up to an inch or so deep making for a mess walking around as the ice was very slick as well. There were a number of anglers out on the ice spread around different locations. I wanted to try an area that I had found on the open water last fall that was 22 feet deep but at the time the graph showed either weedbeds or bushes scattered throughout this area. Today's agenda was to jig with electronics in search of suspended crappies and once a number of holes were drilled, didn't take long to find them. The first location wasn't giving me the results that I was looking for as the crappies were very small in size and there were a number of white perch scattered in the area as well. The bait of choice was the Northland Tackle Mooska Tungsten jig and this was tipped with Eurolarva. Seeing that the fish were on the small side, I packed up and moved off another 40 yards or so and drilled a number of holes. As I would move from hole to hole, certain holes only had white perch, others had small crappies, and then I hit the magic holes that finally I had found the bigger sized crappies. These still weren't the 11-12 inch long ones that I was looking for but was consistently catching 9-10 inch long ones. Of course as it got later into the afternoon the bite really picked up but I had another engagement to attend to and had to call it a day. It turned out to be a very good fishing outing for what the weather was throwing out there and was definitely worth every minute of it.


Tuesday, January 7, 2014

Ice fishing New Hampshire 1/5/14

Finally our ice fishing season has kicked off here in New England and been a long time coming as we never know if there is even going to be a season. We have been having very cold temps and there are waters that were fishable the last couple of weeks but with to many other things going on, getting there was a bit of a problem. We had a major snow storm last week that left 18-24 inches of snow in the area, so with that we decided to head for New Hampshire as they didn't get near that amount and will make for easier walking across the lake to where we want to fish. We went to a reservoir that I have been wanting to fish for quite sometime and finally made it there. There are largemouth bass, pickerel and it is known for its crappies. The day was perfect with temps around 30, clear sunshine skies and no wind. There were a number of other anglers on the water and everyone was spread throughout the reservoir. We started drilling holes in the main river channel and setup a number of traps in water depths from 23 feet up to 5 feet deep. The deeper water traps had little action and the moderate to shallower water produced all day with numerous pickerel and largemouth bass being caught. We drilled a number of holes all around the river channel and used our electronics to search for and catch numbers of crappies. The size was rather small and there weren't any keepers caught but it was definitely a fun day to be out on the ice and kick off our season. The crappies were biting on very small jigs with the use of euro larva that I brought back from Minnesota. Our plans for the next trip will find us around the Boston area and will be fun as we have never fished the waters in that location.