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Ice Fishing in the Wilderness


January 3, 1997......a beautiful, rare 55 degree day in the middle of a New England winter.  What better way to celebrate such a wonderful day than to go into the woods and fish a remote pond that looks like the hand of man has never touched?

Debra, Chuck and I decided on Friday night that we would head into my father's tree-farm to ice fish a remote 12 acre pond.  I have spent many years in my father's woods, but this past deer season I stumbled upon a large pond which I had never seen before.  Today was the day that we would investigate this pond (I found the pond one month ago and already we're fishing the pond).

Getting to the Pond
We placed the backpack and hand chisel into the bed of the 4x4 Ranger.  We piled our beverages, our snowsuits, and our dog into the cab of the truck.  We then drove the 12 miles to the 450 acres of trees and hills.  Upon reaching the end of the snow covered road approximately two miles into the woods, we unloaded the truck and loaded up our backs.

After walking for 30 minutes into the woods we came out of the thick evergreens and emerged at our destination. 

Determining Where to Fish
We immediately chiseled a hole in the narrow end of the pond only to find that the area had less than three feet of depth.  We proceeded to move down the middle of the pond looking for the deepest section.  The ideal depth would be somewhere around 8 to 10 feet deep.  We were optimistic that we would find this depth as the pond was quite large and the topography of the surrounding area was very hilly.

As we continued to chisel holes, we were consistently disappointed to find depths of less than 4 feet.  Finally, we chiseled a hole which was close to 5 feet deep and proceeded to bring up a lily pad from the water.  Success! or so we thought........

We proceeded to set out three tip ups in the area.

Remembering Why We Were Doing This
The most wonderful thing about fishing is that 9 out of 10 times you either strike out or do "so-so".  BUT.....then that 1 time you hit the motherload and really have a great time.  We carried our gear this far into the woods in the off chance that this was that 1 out of 10 time.

Back to the Fishing
We did what we were supposed to do:

  1. Searched for the deepest water
  2. Set the tip ups
  3. Placed the shiners about 6 inches from the bottom
  4. Checked the shiners periodically to make sure that there was enough oxygen and that they had not been torn from the hooks by a fish

Now, the reason we searched for the deepest water was because this was a shallow pond.  Had we been in a larger pond or a lake, we would have searched for a point, submerged lily pad bed or some other type of structure.  Yet, in this instance we were simply looking for depth.

After about 45 minutes, we had our first "flag"!  After running over, lifting the tip up, and slowly feeling the line, all we pulled up was our shiner ....... with part of its tail missing.  So there were fish here after all.

This was the only flag we got all day, but the fact that our shiner had been mauled was a good sign.  There did appear to be fish in this remote pond....even though it may have been a simple pickerel.

The End
We spent a great day out in the woods, we investigated a new pond, and we ended up with at least one fish hitting a bait.  All in all it was a good day.  It wasn't very successful for fishing, but it was a great day none the less.

Did I mention that during this time, Chuck wandered off to try to get a rabbit with the .22 cal rifle.  During his excursions he happened to stumble across a deer.  He couldn't identify whether it was a doe or not, but he said he got a good two to three minute view of the deer as it walked by him.  This was the fourth deer that he and I came across since deer season.  He got his during the season but I didn't.  Yet, I hunted this 450 acres and did see quite a few.

As usual, we went out for one reason and learned much more than we initially thought we would.  Because of a fresh snow, I was able to once more see a very discernible deer trail which I had seen many times before during the past deer season.  This would surely be a good place to put a tree stand next year.  Chuck did not hunt this area because he got his deer early in the season.  In seasons past he hunted my father's woods, but he never traveled far into the woods and therefore did not see many tracks.  During today's excursion, we came across dozens of different tracks which were less than a day old.  This helped to convince Chuck that he should come up to this set of woods next year with me.

We spent a great day in the woods; we though we were going fishing; we learned a lot about an area for deer hunting; what more could you ask for.......

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