Tuesday, March 4, 2014

The Difference A Year Makes

I have not gone fishing in almost 2 weeks. This is practically a record for me, even though in the thick of winter. There is still a ton of ice fishing to be had, but I just haven't been able to muster up the energy to lug my gear out onto the ice to fish for anything other than a musky. People do pull muskies through the ice, but catching them on bait, live or dead, just isn't my style.

So instead I've cast myself into a winter prison, hanging on in quiet desperation that one day I'm going to wake-up and my boat won't be in an 8-foot snow bank and all of my favorite musky waters will be void of ice.

In reality, that's not going to happen, so I need to snap out of this.

I tossed around the idea of trying to find a stretch of the Delaware that isn't frozen or to hop on the Dauntless for some cod fishing. But in the end, it looks like I'm going to dust the auger and the sled off and get back to what I should be doing.

Friday looks like a great day to be on the ice, and I think that's where I'll be.

The boat will have to stay put for now, but at least this is my second year with it and not my first. Had I gotten it this past Christmas instead of the prior, I just might be losing my mind right now.

I know that everyone is well aware of the weather, but let's look at some facts from a fisherman's perspective.

In 2013 vs. 2014

In 2013, I had already taken my boat out twice at this point, once in February on a lake in Mercer County and once in March on a lake in Warren County.

Today, in 2014, these same lakes have over 15 inches of ice on them. We rarely see 15 inches of ice in January.

In 2013, I caught my first musky in open water on Greenwood Lake during a brief thaw in January. For the record, the year before, I caught muskies in February by boat on Oxford Furnace Lake and Lake Hopatcong in February.

In 2014, none of these lakes have been accessible by boat since before the New Year began.

On March 4th of 2013, the high temp was 44 degrees and the low was 27 in my hometown of Garwood.

Today, March of 2014, the high temp will not reach 30 and the overnight low will not reach 20.

On March 5th of 2013, the high was 50 degrees, tomorrow it will be 35.

But you get the point. I'm not really complaining, well I guess I am, but I realize there is nothing that can be done. I know people realize that it has been cold, but from a fisherman's perspective this winter has really been something I have never seen.

In the 15 or so years that I have been ice fishing, the most ice have encountered has been 16 inches on Lake Hopatcong, but that was in January.

By March, almost without exception, the edges of most NJ lakes and ponds are thawing and the die hard ice guys are getting onto the ice with wooden planks. This year they are frozen solid.

NJDEP Fish and Game normally starts setting its nets on Budd Lake next week to catch broodstock pike for NJ's stocking program. Budd Lake has over 15 inches of ice.

It will be interesting to see how the state, and I, adjust to this extended winter. The one thing that is certain though, we haven't seen anything like this in quite some time. At least not in my lifetime.

Stay warm and figure out a way to catch some fish.

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