Some may have called Seamus Foley of Bryant Pond crazy for ice-fishing on a cold, soggy day such as Saturday, but in Foley’s opinion, it was the people off the ice who were crazy, because the fishing was “awesome.”
That seems to be the pattern this year, because over in Livermore on Long Pond, Earl Young and his son, Rory, were having good luck too, warm and toasty in their insulated ice shack, complete with a tiny wood stove.
“Sometimes with a pressure system coming through like this with rain, it’ll make the fish feed like crazy,” said Foley, who was on Keewaydin Lake in Stoneham on Saturday, in his own little portable, pop-up ice shack, keeping warm with a propane heater.
In fact, not only was the rain helping the fishes’ appetite, but it was melting the top layer of snow, making it easier to move on the ice.
“After tonight’s freeze-up, it should make for easier walking conditions,” Foley said, referring to the low temperatures expected Saturday night.
Rory Young said the ice was about 10 to 12 inches thick on Long Pond, while Foley said the ice he’s been fishing on has been between 12 and 16 inches.
Long Pond, which Young said hosts fish such as bass, pickerel, rainbow trout and yellow perch, has the “ice-in, ice-out” rule, which means those who are licensed to fish can do so as soon as the ice is thick enough to safely walk on.
“We usually get into March, sometimes the first week of April. Basically, the season is over when we don’t dare to go out anymore,” Earl Young said.
On Lake Christopher, the season started Jan.1, and since then Foley said, he’s been having great luck catching rainbow trout, brook trout and salmon. If he brings his children with him, he’ll target bass and perch.
“Bass and perch fishing is action all day, so usually it’s great to keep the kids busy. They’re an invasive fish, so there is a high population of them,” Foley said.
In order to get to the fish swimming in the chilly water below, Rory said, they use a gas-powered ice auger, which drills a hole into the ice. Then a skimmer is used to scoop out the excess ice and slush.
Foley sets up his tip-ups at precise depths, depending on which fish he is targeting. A tip-up holds the bait on a fishing line, which is then lowered to the desired depth, and when a fish strikes, the tip-up’s flag will flip up, alerting Foley of the action.
“If I’m fishing for salmon, I usually like to find deeper water and fish a couple feet under the ice,” he said. “Brook trout, I like to fish close to the shore, in 3 feet or so of water, and usually place my bait just under the ice for them as well.”
He said rainbow and brown trout are tough to fish for. “They can be in between a few feet of water to 40 feet of water. I usually place my bait at all different depths to find them.”
Earl Young of Livermore stands inside his ice-fishing shack on Long Pond in Livermore on Saturday, where he and his son, Rory, were fishing. (Liz Marquis/Sun Journal)
An empty ice-fishing shack sits on the shore of Brettuns Pond in Livermore on Saturday, with freezing rain peppering its exterior. (Liz Marquis/Sun Journal)
Earl Young of Livermore wore grabbers on his boots on Saturday to ice-fish on Long Pond in Livermore. The surface of the ice was slushy and slippery. (Liz Marquis/Sun Journal)