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Ice Fishing (5)
White Perch (1)
Wildlife Management (1)
Fish Hunting: How to Sight-Fish from Flats to Freshwater
May 26, 2020
From the poling platform I spotted the dark shapes—five or six of them—milling over light-colored bottom.
“OK Dad,” I said, “I’ve got a group straight ahead, 90 feet.”
I poled the skiff quietly, keeping my eyes on the black backs of the tarpon. They resembled suspended logs, except that every once in a while one would tail-kick or turn in a slow, daisy chaining pattern. Otherwise they hovered in place, motionless and unaware of our approach.
Stay Sharp: Why and How to Properly Sharpen Fishing Hooks
May 4, 2020
The big muskie ate my fly a foot from the rod tip. But the fight didn’t last long. I set the hook, the muskie shook its enormous head, the hook flew out, and I cursed so loud my ears rang.
I inspected my fly: 10 inches of black schlappen and gold flash. I knew that hard-mouthed species like muskie, bass, and tarpon have a habit of throwing hooks, but I wanted to check my hardware anyway. The feathers hadn’t fouled. I examined the 5/0 hook point...
How to Crush Smallmouth Bass Right After Ice-Out
Apr 16, 2020
The ice is out and I’m itching to get on smallmouths. The fact that I’ve been quarantining in my apartment with two roommates who can’t even talk fishing with me isn’t helping. Problem is, water temperatures are barely nudging 40 degrees. This means that although I’ve been daydreaming about big smallies in shallow water, of post-spawn feeding frenzies, and that definitive smalljaw thump, I have to face reality—the fish are going to be hunkered...
Last Ice: How to Stay Safe and When to Call it Quits
Mar 26, 2020
The ice at the lake edge is dark, slushy, and covered in standing water, as if the lake dug a moat around itself. Farther out, where I want to set my tip-ups for pre-spawn northerns, the ice integrity looks uniform and solid. I don’t see any obvious pressure ridges or widening holes that mark danger. On this late March morning the air remains chilly. I’m glad I’ve remembered the 2×4 wooden plank, about 7 feet long, which will act as a bridge...
How to Fight and Land Big Fish through the Ice
Feb 27, 2020
When I get to the tip-up, the silver spool spins fast enough to raise bubbles in the hole. It slows to a moderate spin, consistent, without stopping. I give a thumbs-up to my dad who trails behind me. He picks up his pace, navigating the lake’s crusty snow cover on his one good knee.
By all indications, a large northern pike has taken our six-inch golden shiner. Smaller pike, I’ve found, run in short bursts—peeling line from the spool then...
Ice Advice: Staying Warm During the Coldest Fishing Season
Feb 13, 2020
In my earliest fishing photo, I’m two years old, stuffed in a baby blue snowsuit, shoveling Cheez-Its in my mouth on the floor of my dad’s ice shanty.
Some 30 winters later, I’m thinking of that same photo—of my genuine look of comfort and coziness—as I drill holes through Clearwater Lake, in western Maine, at six in the morning. It’s early February. My nose and cheeks burn in the frigid air. My frosty eyelashes stick briefly with each blink...
Hardwater Basics: A Guide to Tip-Up Fishing
Dec 27, 2019
After augering 10 holes and clearing the slush, we moved on to setting tip-ups. My fingers were already losing function due to the cold, but the adrenaline kept me going. As usual, we were first on the frozen lake, my father and I. The sooner we set up, the sooner our jumbo shiners would swim at depths haunted by big northern pike. To break up down-time between pike bites, we would set a few smaller rigs tipped with tiny emerald shiners for white...
First Ice: Early Hard-Water Fishing Safety
Nov 19, 2019
We stood in the trees near the shoreline, waiting for sunrise. The morning was frigid and windless. A few feet beyond, lake ice folded against land. As far as I could tell, we’d be the season’s first ice anglers; it was early December and a week-long cold snap had hardened my favorite local lake. In a month’s time the lake would be dotted with shanties, alive with the echoes of power augers and snowmobiles, but this morning it was empty and...
Muskie Fishing Basics: How to Catch the Premier Freshwater Predator
Oct 4, 2019
When it finally happened, I was thinking about lunch: moose stew bubbling over the Coleman stove back at camp or turkey and cheese on a bulkie roll. I’d been casting since dawn, and both choices seemed tempting. Standing at the stern of my canoe, I gazed across the water into Canada. Large, spiky evergreens lined the far shore. The few deciduous trees were beyond peak foliage. When I turned my attention back to the all-black, foot-long streamer...
Savior of the Dog Days: Summertime Topwater Bass
Aug 27, 2019
This place is a frog’s nightmare. Bank-eroded trees complicate the shoreline in various stages of decay, providing perfect ambush spots for finned predators. Farther out in this slow-moving river, lily pads bejeweled with yellow flowers contrast deepwater pockets the color of tea. Milfoil and other spindly weeds crowd the channel, which at its deepest reaches only four or five feet. All is peaceful now. I’m hoping to change that. I’m chucking a...