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Tuesday, January 9, 2024

Ice fishing report for January 2024

First, I'd like to start by wishing everyone a happy new year, and all the best for 2024. I'm planning to detail my ice fishing outings for January 2024 in this blog post, so I hope you'll bear with me, and enjoy the reading and fishing pics.

Ice has been very slow in forming anywhere in the Montreal and surrounding regions. As such, options have been limited, especially early in the month.

January 3 2024:

My first outing of 2024, I decided to spend a few hours running some of my spots closer to home, instead of heading North for bass, as I had done during the previous week to close 2023. Out of the 5 spots I checked, only 3 of the had safe ice, and 2 of them were quite crowded with others already fishing there.

I had one spot to myself, with mainly 3 inches of ice, though the spud bar was in order, as some spots were slightly thinner.

The ice was thin enough for my Marcum's transducer to shoot through it.

Unfortunately, nothing but small perch, though in very large numbers. Managed to land 27 of them, mostly in the 4-6 inch range, despite upsizing lures. Only fished for 3 hours, drilled about a dozen holes, and found fish mainly suspended over 12 feet of depth.

January 9 2024:

Decided to try a new spot for my first pike fishing outing of the year. I have fished in the area before, but this spot is new to me, at least as a far as ice fishing goes. I originally found the fishing spot while float tubing during the summer, and did OK, catching largemouth bass and pike there over a couple outings.

Got to my spot just before the start of the mid morning major. Found 6 inches of solid ice, with a few inches of fresh snow cover. This area typically has at least double the ice by early January, but this year has been unseasonably warm. 

No signs of anyone else having fished there sine the ice formed, so I was hoping to find more fish where I had last had most of my success there. Went with my my 8 inch manual fin bore auger, as I do enjoy the extra workout every now and then.

I started off by setting u my spread of tip up lines, suspended at depth of 6 to 10 feet over 14-16 feet bottoms. We are allowed to use up to 10 lines during winter in this zone, so I baited p tip ups, with a variety of frozen mackerels in the 7-8 inch range, and some headless gutted smelt in the 5 inch range.

I also rigged a few of the lines with double smelt, one on each treble of my quick strike rig.

Finished setting up my last tip up rigged with double smelt around 9:40 am, just after the start of the major. I drilled my first jigging hole, and started off jigging with small Yozuri Rattle n vibe rattlebait, my go to lure for largemouth bass and big perch.

On my first drop, I saw a big mark hovering near my lure on my Humminbird flasher. It disappeared shortly after, only to come back and leave a gain a coupe more times. Finally, I managed to get it to eat on it's fourth time, suspended 3-4 feet off the bottom depth which was 15 feet. 

The ensuing battle was quite intense. I had to keep my rod submerged under the ice hole to avoid having the thin fluorocarbon line cut on the ice hole's bottom end.

After a few runs, I manage to land my first pike of the year, a chunky fish pushing 6 lbs.

Just as I was releasing it, my last tip up line I had set a few minutes earlier, sprung up.

This pike was not quite as long, and a lot thinner, more typical of the summer pike that I've caught at this spot.

Released it through the ice in good condition, just as the first one.

Starting the day off with a double header, with both pike landed within the first 20 minutes of the outing, had me relaxed for the rest of the day. Just as well, didn't hook any more fish for the next 5 hours or so before I left, nor did I see much activity on the flasher. 

Was also very happy to get my first flag up, as I hope to put some more time into fishing tip ups than I have over the past few seasons. The fact that it hit on the double smelt rig I was experimenting with was gravy.

January 14 2024:

With safe ice in zone 8 still hard to come by, I opted to fish a small farm pond, where I've caught some nice bass and smaller pike under ice in the past. Plan was to fish for pike using most of my allowable lines with tip ups, and save the last line to jig for bass and panfish.

Found a solid 7-8 inches of ice, which was sort of what I had expected. Unfortunately, the bass were super finicky, as were the panfish. Probably slowest I have ever seen at that spot.

Around noon, one of my tip up flags sprung up, the line had been baited with a decent sized mackerel. When I lifted it, the line had somehow got caught up in the spool, so I had very little lie to fight the big pike with, and had to horse it more than I would have wanted to.

Either way, I landed this beauty of a pike!

At 36 inches and weighing 9.8 lbs, it was more than double the size of any other pike I've caught at that spot, as well as being the biggest pike I've landed on ice to date.

I didn't dream of ever catching a pike that big in a pond that small, but this very welcome surprise made my day.

January 29 2024:

Finally got out for the first time in 2 weeks, as I was away for a short trip to NYC during the previous week. For this outing, I brought my youngest son Zev along to fish for stocked brook trout, on a small lake that had its annual ice fishing derby a couple days prior to us going. I had gone their after the derby a couple years ago, and the brook trout they stocked we quite sizeable, and very easy to catch. I planned to fish to worm/jig rods, one tip up baited with live worms, nd jig a small w2 jigging rap.

We got to the lake by mid morning. There were a couple deer waiting for us at the parking area.

Started off fishing in very shallow water, mainly 3-5 feet deep. After close to an hour with no bites on any of the lines. I moved deeper, and within 15 minutes of so, I caught the first trout of the outing. Fish hit a stationary worm line in about 7 feet of water.

Shortly after, Zev caught his first trout of the year. Being a video game junkie, I think he enjoyed using the flasher.

The bite was on, we landed our 10 trout limit within less than 3 hours, with Zev catching the biggest one to end the outing.

While not enough trout in the limit to spell "2024", we came up with the next best idea.

Unfortunately, it seem like the derby organizers decided to stock a smaller class of brook trout this year. Short but fun outing, and we have some tasty fillets in the freezer to enjoy over the next couple weeks. 

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