|Details:||It seems that most of my ice fishing trips involve some sort of debacle. Today's proved to be no different. Left the house on time, and not hung over, so far so good. The sun starts to peek out, clear skies all around...looks like its going to be a good day. Park at the lot, it's a little hike to get into the water, probably a 1/2 mile or so. Grab my gear and start heading up the path. As I'm getting closer I see a dark line going across the middle of the river (I'm fishing a bay off the Sudbury River), hoping that its just a line of brush along the shore, I keep going. When I get closer, I realize its open water...not good, especially since you have to walk up the river to get to the bay.
It looked like the ice was ok on the bay, and maybe along the shore line, so I tried to figure out how to get to the water (first time I went here, everything was frozen up, now it looks like a soupy marsh) start walking through some trees and take a step and find myself up to my crotch in snow...great...a few more steps and it doesn't get any better, and it turns out there is water underneath all that snow! As my feet started to feel wet, I decided it was a good idea to turn around and seek an alternate route.
After a short tirade directed at wet feet and open water, I tried to sort out my options...tried a few paths that all proved fruitless. All my bait was huge, because I was going to try to catch pike...and it was probably too big for bass/pickerel, and I didn't know another lake that was close for pike. I started walking back up the path I came down on and noticed another path that went along the marshy area (but not through it). People are always hiking the trails around there, so I don't know whether the trail just hooks back into the woods, or actually follows the water line, but I figured I'd try it anyway, because I was out of ideas.
The path did in fact follow the water around, and also veered back into the woods. Bingo. I finally get down to the water and see a plank frozen to the ice. Great...really not into crossing planks to get to safe ice, plus the ice opened up more since the plank was put there...aka it wasn't quite long enough. After negotiating the plank, which was frozen to the thick ice enough to hold my weight on the other side, I checked the ice and it seemed ok, so I set out to my spot.
I cut my holes and the waiting game was on. I heard pike fishing is usually slow, so I was anticipating a slow day. The problem was I had wet feet from deep snow mishap earlier, which made the wait tough. I had a few wind flags, but around 10 am, a flag popped right up, and it wasn't windy...went over to check it and the line is peeling out. I let it got a little while, then grab the line and start pulling it in. I use circle hooks, so you don't have to set the hook, just apply pressure and keep pulling, but you also lose a fair amount of fish while learning them...anyways, I guess I did it right this time, and I felt something pretty big on the end of the line. It ripped some line from my hands and I fought back, so I knew he was hooked pretty well. I get him right under the hole and he gave me a side flash, I could tell it was big and it was either a pike or a monster pickerel. My auger is only 6" which I realized last night might be kind of small, especially if hook into something big. Because of this, it took a few goes to get his head lined up with hole and a few moments where I thought I might lost it, but I eventually got him lined up and got his head above water. Grabbed him under the gill plate and was pretty pumped. It was a 27.5" 4 lb 14oz northern pike, which isn't huge for pike standards, but its my biggest to date and my first in Mass. I snapped some pictures and released him back down the hole. I only had one flag all day, but I can't complain with a fish like that!