Hook, Line and Sinker: January 9, 2013

Fishing is a pastime that is enjoyed by young and old – a lifetime sport that has no age limits – and one of the few outdoor sports that one can participate in all year long. Many are passionate about their favorite type of the sport, whether it is reservoir fishing, fly-fishing, salt-water fishing, bass fishing, trout fishing. There are some fishermen who only fish during the winter; and those whose passion enables them to walk on water (frozen water, to be sure!)
Ice fishing season has arrived, and reports are that ice fishermen have been out in good numbers this past weekend. And from some accounts, many a fresh fish dinner was enjoyed this week as a result.

The New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) announces a new regulation beginning this year: In waters where ice fishing is permitted, anglers will be allowed to use up to three lines and five tip-ups, except as noted in special regulations, for specific waters. Previously, ice anglers could only use two lines with five tip-ups. And, from the DEC website, “according to a recent survey, ice fishing participation has doubled over the past 10 years.
The use of minnows for bait is very popular when ice fishing, and baitfish may be used in most but not all waters that are open to ice fishing. See the DEC website for a list of special regulations by county to find out where baitfish can and cannot be used.

Ice fishing reminders
Anglers are reminded to take these important steps when ice fishing:
Follow the baitfish regulations to prevent the spread of harmful fish diseases and invasive species.
Use only certified disease-free baitfish purchased at a local tackle store or use only personally collected baitfish for use in the same water body in which they were caught.
Check for sufficient ice thickness before venturing onto the ice.

A minimum of three to four inches of solid ice is usually safe for anglers on foot. However, ice thickness varies on every body of water and anglers should be particularly wary of areas of moving water and around boat docks/houses where “bubblers” may be installed to reduce ice buildup. DEC cautions that the presence of snowmobile tracks or footprints on the ice should not be taken as evidence of safe ice conditions. Individuals are strongly encouraged to check ice conditions for themselves and avoid situations that appear to present even a remote risk.

Pepacton Bait & Tackle, Route 28, Arkville, is offering baitfish locally, and proprietor Tom Phillips has had patrons from as far away as Hancock, Pennsylvania and Kingston. “Over the past weekend, Friday, Saturday and Sunday, we sold 40 dozen minnows, mostly three dozen at a clip” in addition to spikes, wax worms, mealworms and night crawlers.

For those who are interested in taking the plunge into the world of ice fishing, or introducing a youngster to the sport, but are daunted by a lack of equipment (or are not sure if they are willing to invest in equipment for a new sport), Pepacton Bait & Tackle is offering a great deal – you can rent all the gear you need on a daily basis. Tom has set up a rental of the following: five tip-ups, two jigging poles, a hand auger, a ladle, and a bait bucket – for $45 a day (bait and hooks sold separately) - what a great way to try out ice fishing!

And mark your calendars next weekend - Tom is happy to announce the first Annual Big Pond Ice Fishing Derby – scheduled for Saturday, Jan. 19 and Sunday, Jan. 20. He is offering cash prizes as well as prizes of ice fishing gear picked out for the event. For a $10 entry fee per, ice fishing enthusiasts can register at the store or by calling Tom at 845 750-5061.

Fishing prizes
There are 10 prizes to be awarded, with three cash prizes of 50 percent, 30 percent and 20 percent of the total entry fees collected – prizes to be awarded for the largest fish taken. The contest will begin at first light, or 5 a.m. on Saturday, and will continue on until 2 p.m. Sunday afternoon. All fish entries must be brought into the store by 2 p.m. Sunday to be measured and weighed.

Big Pond is a 51-acre, state-owned coldwater lake located in the Town of Andes, along the Big Pond Road. It offers one and-a-half miles of shoreline, and is 0.55 miles long, with an elevation of 1,931 feet. There is a DEC car top launch site at the southwest end of lake off Big Pond Road. Big Pond is a trout pond, and the special fishing regulations allow three trout to be taken daily, minimum size 12 inches in length. The lake is stocked annually with approximately 1,000 brown trout of eight to 21 inches (most years it receives roughly 200-250 brown Trout of eight to nine inches) and 250 rainbow trout from eight to nine inches in length.

According to the DEC’s website, “Some very impressive catches have been recorded.” In addition to trout, other fish species present in the lake include American Eel, Chain Pickerel, Golden Shiner, White Sucker, Brown Bullhead, Pumpkinseed, Smallmouth Bass, Largemouth Bass, Yellow Perch.
Pepacton Bait & Tackle is open from Wednesdays through Sundays (closed Mondays and Tuesdays) from 7:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. For more information, or to register for the Big Pond Ice Fishing Derby, please call Tom at 845 750-5061.