Sure we love our cold winter days in the Adirondacks, but we also know how to take advantage of those rare warm spells that pop up every once in a while. After a spur of below-zero weather, a recent 28-degree Saturday felt like T-shirt weather. Debating on what to do on this beautiful sunny day, my boyfriend Robbie mentioned packing up the gear and heading out to ice fish. Something I had never done before, I decided I would like to try it out.
We gathered tip-ups, an auger, the shack, and all the other gear we needed, stopped at Mountain Market & Redemption Center for bait, loaded the truck and took off. I hadn’t realized how much work was put in behind the scenes for a day of ice fishing. Before you even begin fishing you load and unload the truck, bring everything you need out onto the ice, drill the holes and get your tip-ups set up — it takes a lot of time. I now realize why ice fishermen are on the ice before the sun has even risen.
It was my first time ice fishing, but I can’t say I did much of the work. While Robbie drilled holes and set up tip-ups, I set up a couple chairs and took note of everything that had to be done. Once he was done he came over and sat with me. It was a perfect day — with the warmer temperature we didn't have to sit in the shack all day. We could sit outside and enjoy the sunshine.
I'll admit, not long after our arrival I was already wondering when we were going to catch a fish… Robbie told me I didn’t have enough patience for fishing — he's right. We sat there for a couple hours without even a flag until about noon. A flag popped up and Robbie took off running after it. He set the hook and pulled up a small mouth bass. It was the first fish I had ever seen pulled from the water while ice fishing. It was pretty cool to see the technique used in setting the hook, and using the gaff to help pull it out of the hole. He let the fish go back in the hole as they're are not in season right now, and we went back to our chairs.
Suddenly flags started popping up one after another. Some would have nothing on them, but others did. We caught a couple other small mouth bass, and one bigger northern pike.
Watching Robbie pull in the northern pike was the highlight of the day. It was the biggest fish I have ever seen in person, and it was tough to get it through the hole. In fact, he had to stick his whole arm in the water in order to grab it so we wouldn’t lose it. He sweatshirt sleeve was soaking wet by the time he was done, but the prize was worth it. It was just shy of being big enough to keep, so we let this one go too.
All day we noticed an eagle had been circling us, flying from tree to tree and watching us. No doubt he was hunting and looking for any fish that we may have left on the ice. We called it a day about three o’clock and started packing everything up, another job in itself. As we started to walk back to shore toward the truck, we turned around and got to see the eagle flying all around our spot and diving down towards the ice looking for fish. It was pretty cool to see — definitely not something you see every day.
My first ice fishing trip was pretty exciting and enjoyable — we had beautiful weather, caught some nice fish, and viewed a gorgeous eagle. I loved the rush of the tip-up flag going up and rushing over to it to see if we had a fish. I even told Robbie I'd like to go again, maybe next weekend. He said I would have to do more work next time and fine-tune my ice fishing skills.
Looking for ice fishing gear? Check out Mountain Market & Redemption Center for everything you will need.