Saturday, January 17, 2015

7 Inches of Ice Lake Hopatcong

Oliver asked where we would go on Hopatcong, and I suggested State Park, River Styx, and a spot with a drop-off from about 10 feet of water. Two years ago, Landolfi took my son and I here, and we waited for about two and a half hours, just talking and on occasion lifting tip-ups from holes to stir any lagging shiners back to life. The sun touched the horizon and we were thinking of leaving, although my interest piqued, since I'm very familiar with things happening at the magic hour. A flag went up, all three of us threw cares aside and ran for it. The fish hit right on the drop-off about 12 feet down. Matt heaved on the line and could barely move it.

"Here!" Joe grabbed the line. Landolfi's patience is short lived, but he gets things done. The hook pulled.

"That was a big fish," Joe said.

It's the sort of spot not limited to pickerel and bass as State Park at least tends to be, besides perch and panfish. Could have been a walleye, channel cat, or even a musky.

Today I mostly looked forward to getting out, conversation, and having some moments of communion with the environment: all fulfilled. And of course I shot photos, 200 of them. But after our four hours or so were finished and Oliver had caught one yellow perch to show for our efforts, when two guys came walking to Dow's dock behind us and reported catching six pickerel, I felt the old familiar urge to actually catch fish come alive as waiting on our 10 tip-ups never did provoke.

 Felt mild the first couple of hours, though never got above freezing.

Lake Hopatcong never freezes evenly. Great, thick sheets of ice collided here like little continents, heaving up ice to the left of this photo, and driving ice under here where I photographed the fissure with a very thin sheet over it.
Black ice is best. But this time a bust.


  1. Surprising, isn't it. From looking at the other photos, it's just another fishing day, made unusual for me by fishing on the ice. But that one pic shown on the top is epic! When I first saw it, I thought sunrise, since you live close to the east coast and thought for a moment you were on the ocean. I didn't pay attention to the trees in the background, didn't really see them. Then, after I posted it to my timeline, one of my friends said sorry. Then a few comments later with other people expressing their sympathy, some because of my use of the word 'shot,' I began seeing it as sad picture instead of a picture of rising hope. Then you said it was taken at sunset! As I look at it, it ties in very well. The yellow light, blood from the dying sun, drains into the hole in the ice. The mourner stands in reflection.

  2. It can be interpreted either way. Just as someone looks downward, reflecting profoundly, just before hope rises. If you absorb the other photos, you can see that they capture more than just another fishing day, too. I have another 190 or so to work on.

  3. I am still not getting your replies automatically. I do wish that could be fixed. I came back here simply to see if you had responded.

  4. I believe I have fixed the problem. Hopefully I get the comments others post here.

  5. Well, here's a test. And I hope others post, but unfortunately, not many do on the blog, although you can see by the numbers plenty do read it.


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