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Author Topic: January......Working Around the Ice  (Read 336 times)

Jim C.

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January......Working Around the Ice
« on: Feb 02, 2021, 12:43 PM »
Some ice, especially if it's stable, can actually jump start fishing in frigid open water.  The ice shelves provide structure and create eddies, providing holding water for trout and salmon.  The difficult part is often getting over or around the ice to wadeable water.  The action can be fast for at least short bursts....or painfully slow. 

January started out with a good bite on a river with well-established ice shelves.  It took to few minutes to figure out what they wanted, which was something small, drifted under a bobber close to the ice edges.









The next outing was after a decent thaw and flow bump that blew out most of the ice.  This is not always a good thing.  It seems that the fish get used a certain ice set-up and when it changes, they get thrown off for at least a bit.



I drew a complete blank until that last hour, when I found a few fish in a run that had an upland tributary coming in from the right and tidewater to the left.  In a change from the normal  winter finesse presentations, both fish were triggered by a retrieved #2 Mepps.







Mid-month brought very difficult conditions, including a nearly 2 inch rainfall on the 16th.  I went 2 trips in a row without any sign of life no matter how hard I beat the water. I ventured into some real interesting spots in search of that pull, without finding it.



Frustrating....yes, but in some ways I'd rather have no hits, no run, no errors than have trips where I have a case of the yips and blow the 1 or 2 chances I get ;D

Approaching the 3rd week of the month, shelf ice redeveloped and conditions became more favorable.





The fishing was far from fast, but I did find a few holdover stockies to save the day.  Fish responded best when I slowly swam tube jigs through the runs.  Not big fish by any means, but on winter open water a fish the size of a frito corn chip fits the bill.





By late month, the first real deep cold of the winter settled in.  That nice run near tidewater that produced well early in the month now looked like this.



Pancake ice was in many of the eddies as ice built up nearly everywhere.



Dropping water levels and cold air temps produced some very interesting ice formations.  I'm partial to the ice beards hanging off limbs over the water in the last pic :o







With the advancing ice, tailwaters or tributary junctions with bigger rivers provided the only open water games in town.  A few years back, I had some off-the-wall 12 salmon and brown trout outings at these spots.  That seems to have been a flash in the pan.  Brookies have made up the bulk of the winter catch more recently, but like the first one here, a number are solid fish.





The quickest access to some of the tributary/big river junctions can be a little sketchy.  I know some landowners who have no issue with a quick crossing.  Otherwise, I'm mindful of posted signs.  What this pic means, however, is a little unclear :-\



I couldn't resist heading out yesterday ahead of the storm.  Those dark days ahead of a blow are as close as you can get to a sure thing in winter open water fishing.  I put February in the books with a brookie in the first 0:05 and another one 0:15 later before the bite window shut down tight.  I just need March to complete 10 straight years of at least one open water trout or salmon in Maine in every month.  I'm prepared to stand on my head if needed to get there 8)







zwiggles

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Re: January......Working Around the Ice
« Reply #1 on: Feb 02, 2021, 02:12 PM »
Awesome post as always, but the little frito comment, and the anecdote at the end had me laughing out loud! Good luck on March, and I hope you donít have to bust out the snorkel!

Raquettedacker

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Re: January......Working Around the Ice
« Reply #2 on: Feb 02, 2021, 03:43 PM »
Way to go Jim..👍👍
Sometimes we live no particular way but our own.....<br />Strangers stopping strangers just to shake there hand...<br />\"Dying is the easy part. Learning how to live is the hard part....\"

NBourque

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Re: January......Working Around the Ice
« Reply #3 on: Feb 02, 2021, 04:43 PM »
Impressive Jim. Must be some cold wading.

Jim C.

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Re: January......Working Around the Ice
« Reply #4 on: Feb 02, 2021, 06:34 PM »
I'm OK if I don't spend too much time with nature's thermometer submerged  ;)

Impressive Jim. Must be some cold wading.

NBourque

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Re: January......Working Around the Ice
« Reply #5 on: Feb 02, 2021, 06:43 PM »
 
I'm OK if I don't spend too much time with nature's thermometer submerged  ;)
:o :o :o :o

TightLinesMaine

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Re: January......Working Around the Ice
« Reply #6 on: Feb 02, 2021, 07:57 PM »
Nice!, good to see your streak in tact Jim, i recall last time we talked you were wondering it may be in jeopardy this winter, good to see you've already got February in the books too.  March is tough but no harder than February i'd say, I think you're good until next January at the least ;)

I got out once in January on a day in the high 30*s after that big rainfall (open water) spin-fished for a little under an hour, not a bump at a usually reliable high-water winter spot.  Probably done til mid/late march or April 1st.

No salmon at your winter tribs/spots so far?

Jim C.

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Re: January......Working Around the Ice
« Reply #7 on: Feb 03, 2021, 09:28 AM »
Thanks, Randall.  Never know about March.  The windows when the fish are receptive is often very small.

On the salmon, just a few early this winter......none since December.  Compare that with almost 70 in the winter of 2017-2018, and 25-30 for the winters of 2018-2019 and 2019-2020.  I'm thinking I won't see numbers like 2017-2018 again anytime soon.  A weird combination of flows and river ice really set that up.  A number of "natural" and "man-made" factors have contributed to the decline since, and may not be reversible.  Actions that have been taken in some cases appear to be ill-advised, but looking on the bright side "time will tell."


Nice!, good to see your streak in tact Jim, i recall last time we talked you were wondering it may be in jeopardy this winter, good to see you've already got February in the books too.  March is tough but no harder than February i'd say, I think you're good until next January at the least ;)

I got out once in January on a day in the high 30*s after that big rainfall (open water) spin-fished for a little under an hour, not a bump at a usually reliable high-water winter spot.  Probably done til mid/late march or April 1st.

No salmon at your winter tribs/spots so far?

 



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