Ice fishing...kind of.
When: Tuesday, January 17th, from 5pm to 5:30pm
Where: Lower Echo Lake in Mountainside, Union County, New Jersey
What: Ice fishing...kind of
Weather: Fog/Mist, 43 degrees, calm wind
Barometric Pressure: 29.93in and falling
Moon: Waning, a couple days past the last quarter
Water Conditions: Covered with about an inch of white, honeycombed ice that was melting quickly
Yesterday, when I was at Lebanon Bait and Tackle, I purchased two containers of waxworms that are generally used for tipping ice fishing jigs. Since there's not really any safe conditions around, Jody inquired where I might be going. I told her that I intended to use them them during the week, and explained my plan.
When I left the house after work on Tuesday, I was fully expecting the local ponds to be somewhere between open water and unsafe ice.
Luckily, I was prepared for anything.
I would NEVER walk on any ice alone, even if I knew it was safe, especially in the dark. So, as I was on my way to Echo Lake Park, I had a much different idea of ice fishing in mind.
When I was fishing in New Brunswick last week, I noticed that the water right next to the dock was deep enough to hold fish. I saw several small panfish swimming there so I said to myself, if there was ice, what would stop me from drilling a hole and fishing from the dock?
As I thought more about it, there were several spots that I knew had a cement bulkhead, dock or some kind of wall that I could potentially catch fish from if I made a hole and fished from shore. Furthermore, many of these places did not permit anyone on the ice under any conditions, and this little idea would help me circumvent the restrictions while still allowing me to fish.
Enter, a world of opportunity.
So, regardless of how much ice there was going to be when I arrived at Lower Echo Lake today, I knew I was going to get my fishing done.
And I did.
I drilled a hole into the VERY unsafe ice from the dock, set up my chair, tipped a Hali jig with a waxworm and started jigging.
I immediately realized how much I miss ice fishing.
I can't explain it, but there is something so incredibly peaceful and fascinating about sitting next to a hole in complete silence and slowly working a jig hoping a fish will bite. I would have paid $100 to see that tiny bend in the tip indicating that a panfish had taken the waxworm into its mouth, but it just wasn't to be had.
Although we may get on the ice this weekend and maybe even a few more times after that, there is little doubt that this will be the shortest ice fishing season in recent memory. At first, I was kind of enjoying not having to battle the frozen ponds on my quest to fish every day. However, after getting a little taste of what I've been missing, it makes me sad.
I hope we never have a winter like this ever again.