Wednesday, January 16, 2019

Nice Ice Outing on Budd Lake

We got to Zach's shop and again it was closed, so we traveled all the way down to the Sporting Life for the shiners, greeted by Andy Still as we walked in. He wasn't fishing today, just hanging out. Matt remarked as we left that he seemed to look at us like we were crazy...headed over to Round Valley Pond. But no one there really knew if the pond was safe or not, and we doubted that it would be, given its depth and relatively lower elevation than Budd Lake, reported to be safe indeed.

But we had to check.

I just grabbed the splitting bar and we quickly headed down to the pond to be sure. I had to position my right foot on weak ice in close to give the real ice just beyond a whack and that foot went through; my boot filled with frigid water within a second, that leg sunk almost to the knee, but instead of reacting, I let it be and took my whack anyhow. Not safe. I guess that ice is an inch-and-a-half or so thick.

My foot warmed pretty much by the time we got back to the car. Thermal sock and very good boot. By the time we got to Budd Lake, we had been "out" a long while, but there was more time to fish than I feared we would have. A sail runner zipped by, but even before we got unloaded altogether, a second showed up with two guys pushing it because wind had died. I had already determined the ice was four inches thick, and Matt and I agreed we wouldn't run one of those crafts on ice that thin.

I had the power auger in the trunk, but we just left it there. Four inches is very easy to cut with the splitting bar. I noticed on one occasion that Matt broke clean through by two hard slams of that iron.

So for about two-and-a-half hours, fishing well into dusk, we hung out and talked. Most of life is stupid compared to what two intelligent people can say when they step outside the bounds. Crisp, calculated conversations that carried time very nicely. None of that second-guessed bullshit warping the tenor of what we said. Calculated in the sense of immediate spoken result.

Before we had even got to Zach's, I told Matt that if we had to fish Budd, most likely we would get skunked. And we had such a good time catching pickerel at Round Valley last year. I know pike get caught on Budd and some of the guys who catch them come out on social media looking very savvy indeed, but I always find it slow except for very rare occasion. On one of those, I caught two pike, but they were only about 17 inches long. On another, I missed two hits and witnessed quite a few caught. Besides those two little pike, I once caught a 23-incher. I have missed some other hits and have also caught a 12-inch channel catfish, but I've fished Budd through the ice quite a bit since 1997 and that's the extent of my catches.

It's about six feet deep everywhere, which means the fish are spread out everywhere. There is one 12-foot hole, and on one occasion when I parked on U.S. 46, I knew I had found it by the amount of line I let down from the tip-up spool before the weight made bottom contact. That tip-up I left alone a long distance from where I sat. It went up. By the time I got to it, all 40 or 50 yards of line were gone. Pike don't run that fast and far. Bass might. But the little channel cat I once caught took line so fast the spool almost looked like a blur.


  1. Glad you guys made to the ice this winter. Looks like a quality day.

    1. We are too. Kind of by the skin of our teeth. Now I'm wondering if ice will slowly thicken and we'll have something of a season or not.


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