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Ice fishing: Ice starting to form, but stick close to shore

Ice fishing: Ice starting to form, but stick close to shore

Be sure to exercise caution and stay close to the shore as ice begins to form on area lakes and wate

Finally, single-digit temper­atures are making ice on our lakes.

In fact, I’ve seen quite a number of ice anglers braving the cold and windy conditions on many of our local waters. But as usual, use a little common sense and stay close to shore until things really button up.

On Saratoga Lake, they’re catching plenty of bluegills just off the Franklin Beach shore along 9P and Fitch Road. Fishing in about five feet of water, they’re using tiny jigs tipped with grubs or small minnows. As of Monday, there was about five inches of ice closer to shore, so don’t venture out until you’re sure.

They are also catching panfish and an occasional northern pike around the state launch site. The pike have all come on medium and large minnows fished in 10 feet of water, east of the boat launch, but be careful and don’t venture too far down the creek.

At Lake Lonely, the cars parked along Route 9P (where there’s a path to the lake) tell me anglers there are catching fish. I know local ice angler Trevor Stay hooked up with some 15-plus-inch crappie recently, jigging in deeper water with fathead minnows. I also heard bigger baits have been catching pike in the north end of Lake Lonely.

On the Great Sacandaga Lake, Dave’s Bait Shop in Mayfield (863-8318) reports about eight to 10 inches of ice in the north end of the lake between the Northampton camp sites and the Northville bridge. This area is producing 17- to 19-inch walleyes on tip-ups baited with icicles, fished seven to 22 feet deep. The pike are also biting on shiners. The largest reported this season was a 42-inch, 21-pound pike caught by Jack English of Edinburgh on live bait.

Dave’s Bait had two shanty rentals last weekend, and the anglers in both caught walleyes, perch and a few short northerns. These shanty rentals are $40 per day, and include heat.

Round Lake anglers were pulling up pike, bass and bluegills last weekend right in front of Route 9. Most were less than 100 yards from shore. I haven’t received any reports on how much ice is out there, so be careful.

One Lake Champlain angler recently took a ride on a piece of ice that I am sure he won’t forget. Paul Harrison of Plattsburgh was fishing in the breakwater area of Rouse’s Point when a shift in the wind, coupled with the current, broke the ice between him and the shore free, and he set sail for Vermont.

Using his cell phone, he called 911 as the winds and waves continued to break pieces of the ice he was on. Laying flat on the ice, he did make it to Vermont in about 20 minutes, where cold-water rescue teams safely retrieved him

I should have more information about ice fishing and the conditions next week. If you’ve been out and had a good day on the ice, drop me an e-mail with all the details and I’ll include it in my weekly ice fishing report.

TOURNAMENT SCHEDULE

If you’re looking for ice fishing tournaments, there are plenty to chose from starting with the two this weekend.

On Saturday, the Great Sacandaga Lake Fisheries Federation will host its annual event from 7 a.m. to 4 p.m. at the Sacandaga Boating Club in Broadalbin. Entry fee is $15, if paid by Friday, or $18 the day of the contest. There will be $1,250 in cash and prizes, and awards will be made in the walleye, pike, perch and trout categories. For further details, call Jack Smith at 863-1062 or Randy Gardinier at 843-6329.

Also on Saturday, Grafton Lakes State Park will hold its annual tournament from 5 a.m. to 3 p.m. Registration and weigh-in are at the park maitenance shop, Entry fee is $10 for anglers 16 and over, free for under 16. Bring your own bait. For add­itional information and directions, call 279-1155.

On Sunday, the second annual Saratoga Tackle Fishing Team Tournament will be held at Sar­atoga Lake from 6 a.m. to 3 p.m. Each team may have up to five members. Entry fee is $50 per team. Awards will be made in the pike, walleye, perch and crappie categ­ories. Weigh-in will be at the tackle shop. For further information, call 584-3952.

FEBRUARY

The Northern Challenge Ice Fishing Tournament will return to Big Simon Pond in Tupper Lake on

Feb. 2. The contest is limited to 1,000 anglers, and will pay $500, $200 and $100 for the heaviest pike weighed in live each hour of the tournament. Tournament hours are 7 a.m. to

3 p.m. Entry fee is $30. Many prizes will be given away, including two Suzuki ATVs. For information, call 359-9715.

Saratoga Tackle will host its sixth annual, three-day Saratoga Lake Derby beginning Friday, Feb. 8 at noon and running continuously through 3 p.m. Sunday. Entry fee is $25, and awards will be made in the pike, walleye and perch categories. There will also be an optional pickerel pool, with an entry fee of $5. For details, call 584-3952.

The Fish House Fish & Game Club will hold its contest at the Great Sacandaga Lake on Sunday, Feb. 10 from 6 a.m. to 4 p.m. Weigh-in will be at Fish House Corners. Entry fee is $15 in advance, $20 on the day of the event. For further details, call the club at 883-8489.

Saratoga Tackle will host its second annual Family Day Derby on Saratoga Lake on Feb. 18 from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. To enter, each contestant must by accompanied by at least one participant under the age of 16. Entry fee is $10 per family, and awards will be made in the pickerel, perch and panfish categories. For details, call 584-3952.

The Fuel & Fuel Store will host its ninth annual weekend contest on Great Sacandaga Lake, beginning at 4 p.m. on Friday, Feb. 29, and ending at 4 p.m. Sunday, March 2. The entry fee is $15, and all fish will be measured at Driftwood Park. Prizes will be awarded for walleyes, pike, trout, perch and a special prize for longest mud puppy. For further details, call 661-6917.

MARCH

The Post 701 Fish & Game Club’s annual ice fishing tournament on Great Sacandaga Lake will be held March 8 from 7 a.m. to 4 p.m. All fish will be measured at Driftwood Park. Prizes will be awarded for walleye, pike, trout and perch. The entry fee is $12, and pre-registration is required. For further details, call 842-2290.

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