Dick Pinney's Guide Lines: Iced in or iced out, there's still great fishing to be had out thereBy DICK PINNEY March 18. 2018 2:50AM
If there ever was a time in the calendar that was too early for this and too late for that, this is it!
There's plenty of water that is legally open for fishing in both rivers and streams, and lakes and ponds.
Some of these places still are ice-bound, and there are plenty of opportunities to dip your line where ice has either gone out or where there are plenty of open-water places around the shoreline.
My experience with fishing where ice is out or on the open water spots is that nothing can come close to the success of using real bait - live or newly killed. Frozen baits, at least for the Dickster, come in a distant third place, but if that's what you have that's what you should be fishing with.
Night crawlers and worms as well as salmon eggs can be deadly this time of year but remember this one thing: you may be half-alert and trying not to scare the fish you're targeting. If that is the case, you'd better go back to the "sneaking-school," as although the fish you're targeting may not terribly alert because of the water temperatures, they are not brain-dead! You still have to be very stealthy when approaching ice-free spots on flowing water or even shoreline open-water spots.
Speaking of the shoreline spots, one of my good friends and a very stealthy shoreline angler, fellow outdoor writer Stu Bristol, uses extreme stealth when approaching shallow iced-out water. And his success at this time of year fishing the shoreline's ice-free open water gives a lot of credibility to this approach! (If you happen to see Stu please don't tell him that the Dickster gave him a plug on this column! We're always kidding around and it would set my efforts back at kidding him if he knew that wrote anything positive about him or his fishing success!)
One particular day stands out in my mind when the Dickster was fishing some ice-free open water for landlocked salmon on the Merrymeeting River. They tend to be quite sluggish and won't take a fast-moving lure or fly, but are suckers for a marabou streamer fly that is just hanging and pulsating in the current.
When I was a New Hampshire Conservation Officer, you'd think I'd had enough of the outdoors stuff but anytime that I could sneak off for an hour or so of fishing, that's exactly what I'd do!
Normally we'd call our district chief, Paul Tasker, who lived in the Wolfeboro area, but this morning we'd left home so early that choosing to give him a head's up seemed like not the best solution.
We were happily watching my homemade streamer fly working the fast water of the Merrymeeting River below Lake Winnipesaukee, up to our knees in cold water but content with the two nice salmon that were on my stringer that had fallen for my flies.
Tasker pulled up his cruiser and parked behind my car. I never saw or heard him and he had sneaked up behind me and grabbed my back cast! No heart attacks, but some pretty good spikes in my blood preasure!
After a few minutes of give-and-take banter, he asked me if I thought I could catch any more. And I answered: "No problem." So, without a thank you, he just grabbed my two fish and told me he had people that would like them.
"You won't have any trouble replacing them," he said as we had started to object.
And wouldn't you know that I never had another take, so I went home with only the memories. When he tried that same trick again, we had decided that our answer would be, "Over our dead body" or something similar! But never had the opportunity.
Those were the days my friends. We thought they'd never end!
Dick Pinney's column appears weekly in the New Hampshire Sunday News. Email him at DoDuckInn@aol.com.