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It’s Not Too Early to Think Ice Fishing

Published 12/18/2013 12:00 AM
Updated 12/18/2013 04:51 PM

Native Americans didn't call December's full moon the Full Cold Moon (also referred to as the Long Nights Moon) without cause. These days and nights are the shortest and longest of the year respectively, often accompanied by bone-chilling temperatures. Anyone recently spending time chopping wood, traipsing through deer country, or just taking in the immediate shoreline can attest to these recent weather conditions.

Throughout the country, winter is surely rearing its icy white head. After the uneventful Atlantic hurricane season, folks were almost lulled into a sense of complacency in which it was being taken for granted that this winter would wear a mild suit. However, fast forward a few weeks and the jet stream with its Arctic blasts of cold mixed with moist air painted a different landscape.

Skiers and other white-weather enthusiasts are smiling while ice anglers are literally chomping at the bit. If these winds settle down and temperatures continue to ride the near-zero track, then safe first ice could be around the corner. And for some holiday gift-givers, that could be a blessing, especially in this shortened season.

As everyone knows who has tapped a hole in the hard water, ice fishing is as much a social event as anything else. That opens up a whole other array of gifts that can easily fill a stocking, crowd the Christmas tree, or any variation thereof. In fact, gifts that have little to do with ice fishing per se, like thermos bottles, cold weather hoodies, and other insulated and warm inner and outerwear could be very appropriate.

More on target, though, would be a handful of tipups, ice grabbers for boots, augers, spuds, skimmers, or maybe a sled. Certainly, ice jigs will undoubtedly be used and, for peace of mind, a pair of safety hand spikes-something no one treading on ice should be without.

On the Water

Air temperatures surely tanked this past week, lending hope for somewhat of an ice fishing season. The evening and early morning norm was below freezing, feeling much colder when factoring in the wind chill. Coastal Long Island Sound water temps dipped below 40 degrees for the first time before rebounding to slightly above when the sun broke through. The immediate shoreline saw fog that crystalized further, making for slippery conditions and then snow-and then more of it!

The cold weather certainly has shocked the overall fishery, more so in the freshwater environments than in the Sound. A drop in water temps has finally sent marine fall fish into deep water, heading south or up the Sound's main tidal rivers for winter holdover. There is little activity left save some deep bottom fish and miscellaneous forage.

Ice anglers are now hoping for continued cold and less wind so ice will build up to a safe four- to five inches, enough to handle a light load. Flip a coin and, if it lands right, the shoreline will see December's first ice. The blacker the better!

When that time comes, one should dig out one's ice spud to chop a few holes in order to test the integrity of the hard water. Starting close to shore and gradually fanning out into the deeper parts of the lake or pond is a good strategy. Do not take chances! A few tipups loaded with live bait and scattered along the still oxygen-filled vegetation line is a good place to start. Mix it up with a jigging stick and move around, snapping small jigs in the process. It is an easy way to test for holding patterns and generally yields a nice panfish catch. Here's hoping that coin lands on the right call and we won't have to wait until cold February for steady shoreline action, if at all.

For all things fishy including licenses, swing by the shop (203-245-8665) open seven days located at 21 Boston Post Road, Madison. Until next time from your Connecticut shoreline's full-service fishing outfitter, where we don't make the fisherman, we make the fisherman better.

Tight Lines,

Captain Morgan



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