February has been another successful month for some more exploratory ice fishing, just as December and January have been. Not having much clientele for ice fishing this season has allowed me to continuously explore new areas, which I'm enjoying more and more, regardless of whether or not I end up successful.
February 6th 2018.
Headed to the Easter townships to try a new area I had mapped using Google maps. After trekking about 1 KM through about 8-10 inches of snow covered ice, I reached my target area. Drilled some holes holes in shallower water for pike, and then some more deeper for perch and possibly rainbow or brown trout, maybe a lucky landlocked salmon.
The first catch of the day was a decent size lake trout measuring 26 inches, put up a very nice fight on my perch rod. As season is closed for lake trout in Quebec, I didn't bother with any pictures, releasing it immediately in good condition as per the regulations.
I move a bit shallower, and stumbled onto a large school of jumbo perch. Perch tend to school up by size under ice, so after catching a few big ones and seeing many more on the flasher, I knew I'd be busy at the fillet table once I got home, as perch are one of the tastiest fish caught in winter.
Took a couple hours or so, and I had a couple dozen perch ranging from 9 to 12 inches on ice, all hit a Swedish Pimple jigging spoon. You can notice how big they are in relation to the 8 inch ice hole.
Managed another accidental lake trout in the 25 inch range at the end of the day near one of my perch holes, again on my perch rod. No pike on the dead bait lines.
February 13 2018.
Headed South of the Border to the upper Adirondacks in New York state, to try my luck on a new lake. The state of New York stocks the lake with landlocked salmon and lake trout, which are both open to fishing year round. As well, there are some big Northern pike in the lake as well, which were going to be my target species for the day.
New York is very particular about the use of bait fish, which must be purchased from local state certified dealers. The frozen store bought smelt and mackerels I normally use for pike are forbidden as bait, so I was at the mercy of the local bait shop's supply. Despite having called them the previous to be sure they had the large shiners I was looking for, when I arrived, they only had small minnows, which still sell for an outrageous $10 USD per dozen. Not being left with any other options, I picked up a dozen, and set up some lines for pike in shallower water, while jigging for perch with the help of my flasher.
As the lake gets lots of fishing pressure in the winter, the perch weren't to big as expected, ended up with a couple keepers by early afternoon. With no pike hits, and some pesky perch messing with the small minnows and tripping my flags, I decided to trek a good mile or so further out, where I ended up on a large flat about 30 feet deep. One of the locals mentioned it being a decent area for smallmouth bass under ice, a species that I've never caught in winter. Drilled another dozen or so holes over the course of the afternoon, hooked into something big down near bottom while jigging a Swedish Pimple, but lost it before I could get it close enough to the ice hole to see what it was. My guess would be a big bass or small lake trout, I'll never know...
February 15 2018.
Headed back to my new spot in the Eastern Townships in Quebec, in search for some more jumbo perch, and possibly some Northern Pike. The trek out to my spot was easier, as there was less snow cover. Having noted that all the Jumbo perch from my previous outing to that area came from 12-14 feet of depth, I drilled a longer lines of holes at that depth in order to determine whether my spot was wider than I originally thought.
Started off by catching a small 18 inch lake trout, and then some small perch. Fishing all the outer holes around my hot spot, I wasn't able to catch any perch bigger than 7 inches, but did get a surprise rainbow smelt, as I was fishing mainly with a tiny version of the Swedish Pimple jigging spoon
When I eventually fished my hot spot, the jumbo perch were waiting for me as I had hoped. I managed to land 2 of my biggest perch ice at 12.5 and 13 inches, and both were bursting with roe, which made them a bit heavier. The 13 incher is my new all time personal best for perch, weighed in over 1 lb at 485 grams.
Ended up leaving with another dozen keepers, my youngest son and I had a perch feast next morning for breakfast.
February 19 2018.
Decided to ice fish the Montreal area for the first time in 2 years. Though I normally prefer to travel to ice fish areas and waterbodies where I don't have summer access, I only had a few hours to fish, and a local friend with a waterfront property invited me to come over and fish the area behing his home for pike.
We set up the lines at a variety of depths ranging from 3.5 to 9 feet of depth, and baited them with thawed out mackerel and smelt. Waiting for the pike bite, we tried jigging for perch a bit deeper, where I showed him how to use a flasher. Unfortunately, we weren't able to catch anything jigging, and the pike weren't playing along with our plans either. My host went back inside to grab some lunch, leaving me on the ice with his nephews and my son. Sure enough, the flag on the tip up closest to me went off. I ran to the line. carefully moved the tip up out of the way, giving my self a bit of line to play with, as I was fishing the shallowest hole, in 3.5 feet of depth.
I quick tug set the hook, and the fight was one. The pike made a few good runs before I was able to ease it's snout up the ice hole, and I was surprised to see that it's was much bigger than I originally thought. While most of the pike I've caught in that area over the years range from 3 to 5 lbs, this one weighed in at 9 lbs, measuring 33 inches. Definitely my biggest ice pike caught in this zone.
That made to outing with back to back personal best for ice fishing. Not too shabby for some February ice fishing.