Ice fishing was off to an unusually early start this year - at least two or three weeks early - thanks to a spell of colder than expected temperatures. As is normally the case, area anglers usually hit Mayfield Lake first, since that body of water generally freezes over first due to its size, shallower depth and location, and then they branched out to other lakes, as well as portions of Great Sacandaga.
Early ice can be a very productive time for ice anglers on most lakes and the fishing is usually top-notch for walleyes on Sacandaga, perch and pickerel on Mayfield Lake and splake on Caroga Lake, for example. I see Great Sacandaga is frozen from shore to shore but I’d recommend staying in the bays and shallower portions of the lake for now, since the ice there is thicker and more solid. I haven’t been out on the lake yet but I understand that as of last Wednesday the ice in those protected, shallower areas was 4 - 7 inches thick, though it may be even thicker by now.
That being the case, we’ll probably begin our fishing reports in the next few columns though I’ve already heard of some good catches of walleyes.
Incidentally, I know the Third Annual Walleye Challenge Ice Fishing Derby isn’t scheduled until Saturday, Jan. 29, 2011 but I understand the entries are already closed because the 1,500 participant figure was already reached as of last week. Some participants have already received their wristbands but the bulk of them will be distributed sometime this week, especially for those entries that were mailed to the Fulton County Chamber of Commerce.
Those entries at the Chamber were being assembled last week and the list should be ready soon, if not already. However, before going up to the Fuel & Food Store to pick up your wristband I’d suggest you call the store first to make sure they’re available. The number is 518-661-6917.
The first event on our 2011 docket is the annual Ice Fishing Contest sponsored and conducted by the Great Sacandaga Lake Fisheries Federation, scheduled for Saturday, Jan. 22, just 24 days from today. That event will be headquartered at the Sacandaga Boating Club on Lakeview Road, Broadalbin, and will run from 7 a.m. to 4 p.m. It offers $1,500 in prize money for the three longest fish in the walleye, northern pike, yellow perch and trout divisions. Prizes will be awarded in the following fashion: $200, $125 and $50 for the three largest (by length) fish in each of the four divisions.
The entry fee for this event is $15 for registrations received by January 21, or $18 the day of the event. Registrations will also be accepted until January 21 at Ross’ Bait in Hagaman, Dave’s Bait and Tackle in Mayfield, LaPort’s Bait Shop in Edinburg, Jim’s Bait Shop in Mayfield, Frank’s Bait Shop in Vails Mills and the Fuel and Food Store in Mayfield.
You can get additional information by going to the GSLFF’s informative website at: www.gslff.org or by email from: email@example.com. You can also call Randy Gardinier at 843-6329 or Jack Smith at 863-1062.
There are also several Great Sacandaga Lake contests and related events in January, February and March but we’ll cover those in more detail in future columns. For example, the annual contest conducted by the Fish House Fish and Game Club will be conducted at Fish House Corners on Saturday and Sunday, Jan. 22 and 23; the Ross’ Bait Shop Contest will be held at Wally’s Driftwood Park on Saturday, Feb. 5; the First Annual Reid Hill Fish and Game Club Contest will be held on Saturday, Feb. 19, also at Driftwood Park; the Adirondack Sportsmen’s Show will be held at the Johnstown Moose Club on Saturday and Sunday, Feb. 19 and 20; and the annual Fuel and Food weekend-long ice fishing contest will take place Friday - Sunday, March 4 - 6.
In addition, there’s also a Gun Show at the Saratoga City Center the weekend of Jan. 29 and 30.
Considering all the above, there should be few complaints about having nothing to do the next few months.
HAPPY NEW YEAR
I hope your Christmas was a joyous one and that your New Year is filled with happiness, peace, prosperity and good health. See you next year.