Joe with his very first fish through NJ ice. Not a bad start. At all.
When: Sunday, January 12th, from 7am to 1pm
What: Ice Fishing with Joe C.
Weather: Mild, partly cloudy to overcast and breezy at times. Winds NW to 16 and gusting to 24, temp 43 to 45 degrees.
Barometric Pressure: 29.68in to 29.81in and still rising.
Relative Humidity: 49% at mid-daySunrise: 7:21am
Moon:Waxing, 4 days before full. Underfoot 9:18am. Moonrise 2:16pm.
Water Conditions: Frozen on top, 6.5 to 7 inches of solid ice despite heavy rains and warm temps the day before. Edges were a little sketchy, but still 4 to 5 inches.
This trip was a few years in the making.
Joe has done a little ice fishing in the past, just not in New Jersey. I'm always pretty stoked when I get to introduce my friends to ice fishing, and although this wasn't a first for Joe, it was very different than jigging lakers on 2 feet of ice in Colorado (See also Colorado Lakers Through The Ice).
Although safety is always a top priority when I'm ice fishing, catching fish is a pretty damn close second. And this was one trip where I wanted someone other than me chasing some flags down. Luckily I have a friend whose parents live on a magical lake, so there was absolutely no question as to where we would be fishing on Sunday.
I was totally amped all week, and then on Saturday, after watching temps reach 60 degrees and seeing an inch of rain fall on New Jersey, I started to get a little nervous. I knew the ice had been pretty thick that morning, but it was hot and wet out. Those are not two conditions that freeze water well, or keep it frozen for that matter.
I was still fairly confident that we'd have plenty of ice, but this was going to be my first ice fishing trip of the year, and I wasn't taking any chances. After driving up to the lake on Saturday night and poking a few holes, there was no question it was a go for Sunday.
We made our way onto the ice with plenty of bait in tow. The ice was still good, and the drilling began. Before the third tip-up was set, a flag went up. The fish wound-up getting away, but that was a good sign. Moments later we missed another flag, and moments after that I put a largemouth bass on the ice, my first fish of 2014.
As we kept setting more tip-ups, we kept getting flags. Joe had the drill down by now, and it was his turn for a fish. Honestly, you can't ask for a much better first fish through the ice than a good-sized walleye, and that's exactly what he got. Score.
The action lasted all day. By the time we got off the water at 1pm, we landed between 15 and 20 fish; a dozen or so bass, 2 walleye, 3 slammer pickerel and a perch. We tried some jigging that produced the perch, but the action was a bit slow and we were just fine with the flags.
We could not have asked for a better day. The ice started to get a little softer as the day wore on, and the water on top and wind were mildly annoying, so it seemed like the perfect opportunity to get home early and watch some football.
Joe and I both got 2014 started on the right foot, and I think I've sold another friend on ice fishing in New Jersey.