Ice fishing season draws anglers to lakes

Union Leader Correspondent
January 08. 2017 8:11PM
Rob Potito and Andrew Smith enjoy the cold temperatures and the thick ice of Lake Waukewan on Saturday. (DAN SEUFERT /Union Leader Correspondent)

MEREDITH — The temperatures dropped to 10 degrees this weekend, the skies were overcast, and a light breeze was blowing, dropping wind-chill numbers to near 0.

For Andrew Smith and Rob Potito, two local ice fisherman, the weather could not have been better.

“It’s really nice out here,” said Smith, of Meredith, who sat near his tent on the nearly 10 inches of ice on Lake Waukewan, watching as other ice-fishing enthusiasts walked by his 10 fishing holes and tip-ups.

Potito, of Belmont, Smith’s fishing partner for the weekend, nodded in agreement as he held a short fishing pole over a hole outside of their tent.

“We put out 10 flags (over tip ups) and we got five fish, that’s not bad for this early in the season,” he said.

Ice fishing season is off to a great start on most of the small and medium-size lakes and ponds in the Lakes Region. Most lakes have 6-10 inches of ice, local fishing experts said, easily enough for safe ice activities. Though state officials urge caution on the ice, the standard for walking safely on lake ice is a minimum of 4-6 inches.

“There’s a ton of ice here,” said Alex Devlin of Newburyport, Mass., who made the trip to Waukewan Saturday because of the reports of good fishing. “We came all the way up here because we heard the ice was good, and the reports were true.”

Meanwhile, in the bait and tackle stores, on several websites dedicated to life on New Hampshire lakes, and among a few dozen people fishing and snowmobiling on Waukewan this weekend, there has been an ongoing debate about when “the Big Lake” — Lake Winnipesaukee — will have Ice-In declared.

Though records have been kept on spring Ice-Out declarations on Winninpesaukee for decades, Ice-In is a relatively new declaration, having started early in this decade. Ice-In is announced when a lake is completely or nearly completely covered with ice.

Last winter had one of the latest Ice-In dates on record, as it was was declared in late February.

Dave Emerson, the owner of Emerson Aviation in Gilford who is responsible for declaring Ice-Out on Winnipesaukee, has been declaring Ice-In for the past six years.

“I do not have very much historical data on this,” he said. “But as a lifelong resident (of the Lakes Region), I have seen it freeze typically the third week of January. But because of our variable New England weather, I’ve seen it as early as the end of December and as late as the middle of February.”

“But what I do know as of (Saturday) morning most all the bay and coves are froze over. The Broads (an area of waters in the middle of the Winnipesaukee) are still open.”

Asked for their predictions on when Ice-In will come to Winnipesaukee, where the Great Meredith Rotary Fishing Derby and the New England Pond Hockey Classic will be held next month, Smith and Petito disagreed.

“Jan. 15,” Smith said. “It’s going to happen soon.”

“Nah, we still have a ways to go,” Petito said. “It won’t be that soon, I’d say Jan. 30.”

FishingOn the WaterMeredith

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