You should have been here last week. That’s usually what anglers hear, especially when ice fishing this season.
So was the case at Ontelaunee Reservoir in upper Berks County where fishing was good while panfish action was fair at Lake Minsi in Northampton County – last week.
The upcoming weeks’ weather may just be the death knell to local ice fishing. With temps in the high 40s combined with rain, both may put a damper on ice conditions rendering them unsafe.
Chris from Chris’ Bait & Tackle in Mertztown, said Ontelaunee had from 4-7 inches of ice with action best summarized as good one day, off the next. One angler, according to Chris who saw the photo, pulled up then released a rare 37.5-inch Muskie he hooked on a pike minnow there last weekend. Other ice anglers were jiggin’ or tippin’ small bass and panfish using small minnows, wax-worms and two-inch Skippy Fish plastic jigs. Most of the action occurred in the back section of Peters Creek Cove.
I visited there two weeks ago and it appeared a good number of anglers trekked farther back from Peters Creek Cove onto the western part of the lake to drill their holes. The ice at that time ran from 5-7 inches according to the anglers I interviewed. The majority were catching small panfish, a few small but legal crappie and some undersize largemouth bass.
Willie, from Willie’s Bait & Tackle in Cementon advises ice fishermen to “go north,” since he feels that predicted warmer rainy weather will deteriorate conditions at both Lake Minsi and Ontelaunee.
Willie said he received reports from customers that they were finding only 4.5 to 5-inches of ice at Minsi and less at Ontelaunee. On the other hand, he said some of his fishing buddies hit Pecks Pond and Shohola Lake in the Pocono’s and did well on perch, panfish, bluegills and an occasional bass using wax-worms and small minnows. Willie said ice depths up there are averaging 10-11 inches.
One observation I made at Ontelaunee was the dominant use of manual ice augers as opposed to powered ones. Cabela’s in Hamburg is also selling a battery-powered model and one angler improvised and used a DeWalt 18V battery powered drill to which he attached a replacement auger he purchased at Cabela’s. Pretty nifty and it did the job, albeit slower than a gasoline model.
As I’ve written in the past, ice fishing is at its best at first ice and last ice, so let’s hope there’s one more safe ice day to make that prognostication come true.
If it’s larger fish you crave, jump aboard Capt. Hogan Bogan’s Jamaica out of Brielle, NJ for some offshore action.
According to Bogan’s 2-22 report, giant sea bass, jumbo porgies a few ling and straggler bluefish are still running on the 50-70 mile offshore wrecks.
Bogan says that he has been out on calm days, rough days and days when the ripping current would normally slow the bite, but not since the season opened January 1. Everybody he reports has had limits of sea bass up to 7.5 pounds and customers were customarily taking limits of jumbo porgies.
One pool winner last week was Morris Duckett from Allentown who pulled in a 12-pound hake plus taking a limit of sea bass and several porgies.
Bogan predicts it looks good for the remainder of the season as there’s a large body of warm water still pushing in from the Gulf Stream, so there’s no reason for the sea bass to migrate farther offshore until March or April. But he advises, if you want to get in on the saltwater bite, do it now because there are only 12 days left to the season. To check on availability, go to www.bigjamaica.com. And to automatically receive outdoor news and views from Nick Hromiak, click on the “Subscribe” notation on this page.