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We got several inches of new snow during the end of last week, with more snow showers at least predicted for this week. Thus far it hasn't been much of a hindrance, at least to ice fishermen, because of the lack of wind, but I'm sure now that I have mentioned the "W" word, that will change. Roads to all popular impoundments are in good shape, however now that fishing contests are over, secondary roads around area lakes will no longer be maintained, so use common sense. Also, ice thickness for the most part is greater than 2 feet, so many fishermen are driving out. Nevertheless, caution is necessary to avoid gett[ng stuck due to accumulating snow on lake surfaces.
A fisherman just now stopped in to ask me if I knew a taxidermist that he could check out for a mount, "of the biggest trout I've ever caught". This same scenario has unfolded dozens of times here on Lake John over the last year, with me usually doing the prep work for the fishermen and women before the taxidermist ever sees the fish. This is twice in less than a week, and the frequency seems to be increasing.
As well it should. March is almost here, and we're coming into the second best time of the ice fishing season. Besides first ice, the next six weeks should continue to get better. Lake John has not been fast all season, but phenomenal for huge fish. Last Tuesday, Larry, one of the Carhartt boys, and I took off on the snowmobile to fish the east side of John, while local angler and fishing partner Gary Arnold attacked the west side. I managed to land a 4.5 and a 6 pounder, both on a crawfish-colored Minnow Tube in 7 feet of water, and Larry, who normally out-fishes most everyone, landed a couple smaller ones on a hand-tied snail fly and a black marabou jig. Gary however had a banner day using his own design of nymphs, landing 4 fish over 5 pounds including a 6 and a 7.5 pound hog. Not all fish taken are this big, with some smaller fish being caught, but the majority of cold-footers are making the trip to North Park for quality not quantity.
Speaking of quality fish - congratulations to the winners of the Delaney Butte Lakes Ice Fishing Contest. A very tight race with beautiful fish, all within a total window of one-half inch. Actually, everyone that entered and finished the contest should be congratulated for braving the brutal wind and weather. I think most contestants faired quite well, however the few times when there weren't white-out conditions, I did see a few people with stuck vehicles while some others were chasing down their ice huts. I managed to catch 2 Browns and 2 Rainbows on the North Lake during the contest with one of the 'Bows breaking the 25 inch mark. It started out in first place at about 7:40 am. However, due to its lack of girth, (just over 13 inches), it kept getting bumped. It held every position, at least for a short time, until it finally got moved out of the money and into 5th place at 4:48 pm. Did I ever write about how important it is to catch fat fish during a tournament? Tip of the Week The new CDOW Biologist is keeping a close eye on D. O. (Dissolved Oxygen) levels on Lake John, the Delaney trio, and Cowdrey lake. He normally stops in to give me an update each time he's out and last reports are that Lake John and the D's shouldn't have any problems this winter, however Cowdrey Lake will have difficulties. With oxygen levels approaching season lows, spend more time in shallow water. Don't hesitate to fish in as little as 1 to 3 feet of water below the ice.