Thursday, December 23, 2010

Hardwater Reunion

A healthy northern pike taken through the ice on Budd Lake.
When:Thursday, December 23rd, from 7:30am to 3pm
Where:Budd Lake in Morris County
What:Ice fishing with the Martalus twins, Chris Lido, Nick Niles and Ron
Weather:Windy as sin. Clouds in the sky and temps into the 30's, but a stiff 20mph NW made it feel more like negative 2.
Moon:Waning, just a day or two past full.

The last time that Brian Martalus and I went fishing together was on a skinny 3-inches of ice. So, after a long hiatus during which Brian spent the vast majority of his time in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, it was only fitting that we picked-up trying to pull fish out of 33-degree water. This time we had a more comfortable 6-inches of frozen floor between us and the drink and the whole gang came out to kick off ice fishing 2011.

I know that technically it is still 2010, but in my book, the new fishing year starts with the first trip on the ice. So, even though the ball in Times Square hasn't made its annual plunge just yet, in fishing terms, it's a new calendar.

Every time I set foot on Budd Lake I have only one thing in mind........northern pike. In my mind, there would be absolutely no other reason to go fishing there were it not for its population of Esox Lucius. Jigging for panfish on Budd is painfully slow and the largemouth bass don't seem to cooperate with anglers all that much. I don't expect to see too many flags fly, but my hope is that when I walk off Budd  Lake, I have at least one picture of a nice-sized northern pike.

Santa came early.

Nick and Chris were already unloading gear when myself, Ron and the Martalus twins rolled-up. We set our mine-field of tip-ups and started to jig. It was immediately apparent that it was going to be a tough day with the wind, but I was well-bundled-up. Coupled with my sheer delight of being back on the ice, it may as well have been August.

Chris Lido was the first to score on a flag, pulling-up the first of four northerns that we would catch on this Eve of Christmas Eve. Ron was next with his first of two. I was third with the fish you see at the top and Ron added his second shortly thereafter. We had a few more false-alarm flags, probably tripped by smaller fish or the insane wind that was relentlessly pounding us throughout the day.

We jigged diligently for the duration of the day, but probably only had a couple dozen panfish between the 6 of us and all were very, very small. The mix included crappie, white perch and sunfish.

When all was said and done, it had been a great day with great friends......old and new.

So, I guess with the beginning of a year one has come to an end. The year 2010 will be remembered, for now, as the greatest fishing year of my entire life. Besides the incredible fishing, I got a new job and Lindsay became my wife-to-be. It has been a year of transition and challenge as well, but once again I seem to have navigated every obstacle the only way that I know how.......one day a time.

A very Merry Christmas to all!!!!!

Next Up:Ice fishing.......of course. Maybe as soon as this Sunday with Nick and Lido. Chrissy and Brian are getting married soon and at some point I'm supposed to catch a flight to Park City, Utah. I'll get there at some point, but now it's time to relax and spend some the holidays with the ones I cherish most.....my family.

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