Big freeze kicks off ice-fishing season
Written by South Bend Tribune   
Friday, 24 December 2004 18:45

Christmas came early for die-hard ice anglers and bait dealers.

Frigid temperatures this week helped lock up most of the channels and backwaters and enabled anglers to get on shallow, wind-protected water. More cold weather could make for safe ice conditions just about everywhere come early next week.

"I think it's going to be a fantastic week for ice fishing next week," said Larry Stover of the Tackle Box in North Webster, Ind. "This is the first time in a few years that we have had good ice between Christmas and New Year's."

Stover said zero-like temperatures forecast between now and Sunday could make lakes fishable soon - providing they aren't covered with heavy snow. Snow insulates the ice and slows the hardening process.

"That's one thing that has been a blessing for us in this area (northern Kosciusko County)," said Stover. "The heavy snow that hit places like Fort Wayne and Michigan City missed us. As of now (Thursday), we've only got a few inches of the light stuff, so we're making ice pretty fast."

Stover said three inches of ice was reported on many of the Wawasee channels as early as last Monday and he expects there to be at least five or more inches today.

"But you've still got to use common sense," he affirmed.

"There are going to be some bad spots out there, especially on the main lake areas."

Ice fishermen are fishing other places too. Kevin Claire at Lunker's said southwest Michigan lakes were freezing and that anglers were on the channels at Juno and Eagle where ice up to four inches was being reported. Mike McNulty of Midway Bait and Tackle in Osceola said anglers also were fishing the channels and backwaters of the St. Joseph River above Twin Branch dam.

"It's been mostly the die-hards and they say they're finding two to four inches," added McNulty. "I'm also getting reports of people fishing the channels at Simonton Lake (Elkhart)."

Panfish are being caught, but most anglers say they are catching more little ones than decent-size keepers.

Steelhead report

Dick Parker of Central Park said there were only two boats on the river Wednesday but both produced fish. One boat landed one of four fish it had hooked while the other landed five. Spawn and Hot-n-Tots were the best baits.

Identify ice shanties

Michigan ice fishing enthusiasts are reminded that their names and addresses must be affixed to ice shanties placed on public water bodies again this winter.

State law requires the shanty owner's name and address be permanently affixed on all sides of the structure before it is placed out on the ice. It must be painted or lettered in some way so that it cannot be taken off the structure. The information must be provided in legible, waterproof lettering at least two inches high.

Tents or other temporary shelters that are removed from the ice each day do not require identification.

 
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