Friday, February 1, 2019

Just a thought. Another National Park, other to Delaware Water Gap, was unguarded during that shutdown. Vandals went in and did irreparable damage to Joshua Tree National Park in California. They actually cut down one of the desert trees that took hundreds of years to grow, few of those trees existing there. And they used boulders for graffiti. They marred the desert crust, which takes many years to form as it lays, with ATV tires.

What would Theodore Roosevelt do? 

Wednesday, January 30, 2019

Laurie Murphy Reports from Dow's Boat Rentals

Laurie Murphy:

Most coves along with the State Park are covered with about 7 inches of ice. The main lake is just skimmed over with some open water so that is not safe enough to fish.  Several nice fish made their way to the scales with Bryan Higgins weighing in a 1 lb 10 oz Crappie, Sean Donnelly with a 3 lb 6 oz pickerel, caught in Great Cove,  Max Hughens also with a pickerel weighing 4 lb 4 oz and Pete Pelligrino with a 1 lb 2 oz yellow perch. Jeremy Hughens also had a 45 “ muskie, released back alive.  The Knee Deep Club’s ice fishing contest is set for Sunday Feb. 10th. More info can be found on their website or you can call the shop @ (973) 663-3826. We are open at 6 AM, 7 days a week and fully stocked with whatever you need for ice fishing. We have shiners and fatheads, along with waxworms and spikes for bait. Have a great week and be safe on the ice...

Sunday, January 27, 2019

Nice Ice Fishing on a Private Lake

Brian Cronk and I decided it was worth checking on the private lake, despite the recent heavy rain. It has a sizeable stream leading into it, so I was afraid that rain and warmth broke up the ice. We got there about a half hour before sunrise to find about four-and-a-half inches of ice, so we drove to Dow's Boat Rentals for shiners, finding a crowd there getting bait like I never have before witnessed. I think most of Hopatcong was frozen, but there was a lot of open water near the shop at Great Cove. We returned to the private lake when the sun was just about on the treetops.

And then we hiked about 400 yards, Brian hauling a Jet Sled carrying all of our gear, me dragging Sadie the black Lab who refused to walk while I tested ice on occasion with my splitting bar, finding ice that seemed as thick as six inches, though most of it was nearly five. When we figured we had walked enough, though I really felt it was best to give up the trek because Sadie's harness kept pulling out under the weight of dragging her, I threw a cloth sleeping bag out for her to to rest on, and soon got my power auger to turn over on the second or third pull. I don't think it cut as well as it used to. The blades had got bad and I replaced them, but it just doesn't seem to cut as quickly as did before the original blades got dull. If anyone has experienced the same and knows of a solution, please let me know. In the meantime, I will have to Google for information on this if I find time, maybe join a message board and pose a question. For the most part, I was satisfied with the Eskimo's performance despite this doubt. In total, I cut 15 holes, and each of them didn't take terribly long to drill out.

As we began setting up our legal assortment of 10 tip-ups, flags started popping before we could get close to having them all set. I had to show Brian how to set them up so we could get the job done on the double. He ice fished some during his high school years, but the steps to getting a shiner set were new to him. When we finally had 10 out there, we had lost a pickerel because it cut through the double 15-pound test fluorocarbon leader, and I had caught one 18 or 19 inches long, while Brian had caught a couple of yellow perch. Deepest depth was about seven feet, and a few tip-ups, two of them I later moved elsewhere, were set in about four feet of water.

We had some leisure time. It wasn't all cutting and resetting. And chasing after flags. Brian tried jigging a Keitech in earnest to no result. I got into observing irregularities in the ice, including myriad small bubbles, wondering about formations, mentioning to Brian that if there's a book written about so many variables in the formation of ice on lakes and ponds, I don't know of it. I might get around to finding out if such a book exists. There are all sorts of ways ice freezes, leaving behind a visible record of these developments that can really call upon a lot of questions. But many of them might be very difficult to answer. How those frozen vortexes appearing like little white tornados with whited dollops on the ice surface got that way doesn't seem clearly evident at all, but maybe the answer is more evident to science than it seems to me.

Eventually, Brian phoned his friend Sam. (Sam's parents live on the lake.) How many perch and pickerel we had caught by then I'm not sure, but for the record, I caught three pickerel and a perch. Brian caught five or six perch. He also lost a pickerel to another cut-off, pulling the fish long enough to know it was good size. Sam told us we weren't quite on the spot. When Brian told me about the channel eight or nine feet deep, that's all the mention I needed to know it's a likely spot for largemouths, despite being only slightly deeper. That's what Brian had in mind. A nice bass of about three pounds. The lake has plenty of them this size.

By now a temperature of about 20 degrees had risen to 35 or so, the surface of the lake having softened, a slippery foothold having gained some traction. I hauled the auger about a hundred yards up lake, cutting two holes. I got a tip-up in only of them, preoccupied with other stuff in the interim. When after about six hours out there that seemed to pass very quickly we decided to start packing it in, I got around to taking the long walk to that distant tip-up that never let its spring take flight. I was thinking about Brian and his persistent wish for a nice bass, looking at that tip-up as I got closer to it and thinking about the fact that it never sprang, and then happened to look at the ice in front of me. When I looked up again, the flag had risen. I called out to Brian. Did he want his last fish? (We had taken turns.) A long walk for that from where he stood by the gear, but his assent signaled that a bass would be worth it, and I stood next to the hole while I waited for him to walk up, watching line steadily peel off the spool.

A bass. Pickerel take a shiner like a rocket for just five or six yards and stop. Perch often take a shiner and just stay in place with it. Bass take a shiner and lumber steadily away, not stopping. Brian got a hold of the line with his hand and started pulling. But all he pulled in was the shiner he had pulled from the bass's mouth before I reminded him that when hand-lining with a tip-up, you have to tighten up and set the hook, too. You feel that pressure and yank back hard on the line.

It was a beautiful end to a nice day on the ice.

Tip-up and high flag.