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Sports

Safety key to a good day of ice fishing

| Friday, Jan. 31, 2003

While recent sub-zero temperatures may have caused their share of problems in the form of frozen water lines and dead car batteries, they have been welcome by die hard "hard water" fishermen. Hard water• You guessed it — we're talking ice fishing.

Ice action has reportedly been good to great at Lake Arthur. Park rangers said northerns, crappie and assorted pan fish are being pulled through the ice. The ice is between 4 and 6 inches thick in most parts of the lake. Of course, Ice thickness is something that can never be "assumed." It's always a good idea to check with park rangers and other fishermen who are on the ice before venturing out.

While ice fishing is officially discouraged at U.S. Army Corp of Engineer lakes, there is ice fishing action at Crooked Creek. Although park ranger John Derby said he does not encourage anyone to go out on the ice, he recommends the following precautions for those who will:

  • Stay close to shore

  • Wear a life jacket

  • Have a pair of "ice awls"

  • When exploring new ice, shuffle your feet rather than walk heel to toe.

  • Wear ice cleats on your boots to reduce the danger of falls

    Another consideration for ice fishermen is physical condition. Anyone who ice fishes should be capable of enduring intense exertion — either incase they fall through the ice — of if they have to aid in a rescue attempt for someone else. Speaking of rescue attempts, if at all possible, they should be left to certified ice rescue personnel.

    Icefishing can be simplicity at its purest. For the basics, any common ice fishing rod will suffice. The more simple ice rods have a "wrap up" type reel and cost about $5. Tip-ups are also popular and cost $10 to $15. Most rods and tip-ups come equipped with "ice" line. You'll need to add some leader material, small hooks, a split shot assortment and a few bobbers. Manual (hand-powered) ice augurs sell for about $30 to $40. Gasoline-powered augurs make quick work of drilling through thick ice and sell for $250 and up. If you do a lot if ice fishing, one might be a good investment. You'll need an ice skimmer (about a buck) and a five-gallon plastic bucket or two comes in handy to carry your gear and your catch. When turned upside down the buckets make a dandy seat.

    Looking for crappie, walleye or panfish• Hook a minnow behind the dorsal fin or a small grub and hang on get ready for some hot ice action.

    In Pennsylvania, anglers are permitted to use up to five "tip-ups" or two rods. (If using two rods you may have three tip-ups)

    Speaking of ice fishing, while surfing the web I came across the National Ice Fishing Association ( naticefishingassoc.org ). To my surprise, the association is located in Franklin, Pa. the site may be of interest to ice fishing men and women. Membership is $18 a year, $10 for juniors. The site offers some interesting deals on ice fishing equipment and accessories and some good tips for beginners and seasoned ice fisher alike.

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