WOODS ‘N’ WATER: It’s show time, just not on the ice

WOODS ‘N’ WATER: It’s show time, just not on the ice


What is going on with our weather? At the end of the first week in January we had open water on all of the ponds in our area.

On my rides past some of the fishing spots this week I did see an open-water fisherman at Black Pond and another trying his luck at Mirror Lake in Hubbard Park.

And why not? This isn’t the first year that we’ve had some early open water and it sure won’t be the last.

But this time of the year also brings out a bevy of events aimed at the outdoors folks, both men and women. I’m talking, of cours,e about the sportsmen’s shows that are coming up.

One of the first will be The Fly Fishing Show on January 20, 21, and 22 at The Royal Plaza Trade Center in Marlborough, Mass. This event isn’t billed as “Part of the show.” It IS the Show.

The 2023 Fly Fishing Show will be giving away more than $30,000 in door prizes. Visit flyfishingshow.com for advance ticket information. Adults are $15 for one day, $25 for two days and $35 for all three days. Scouts as well as children 5 and under are free. Ages 6-12 are $5. Active military with ID is $10.

Admission includes seminars, Destination Theater, Exhibit Hall, casting and tying demonstrations, Fly Tier’s Aisle, Featured Tier and Author’s Booth.

Show hours are 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. on Friday, Jan. 20; 9 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. on Saturday, Jan. 21; and 9 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. on Sunday, Jan. 22.

Tickets at the box office are cash only. An ATM is available on site.

I’m told that the show goes on regardless of the weather, but the schedule is subject to change. You can check the web site www.flyfishingshow.com or call 814-443-3638.

So far, the New Year has been a bummer in our area for those who enjoy the winter sports, including icefishing and skiing. This being New England, there is no guarantee what the outcome will be for the rest of the season regarding the weather.

My heart goes out to our two local ski areas. As for the icefishing, my biggest fear is that in their anxiety to get in some fishing, some fishermen are going to get careless regarding ice safety and this is only going to end in tragedy.

Before the arrival of the New Year it looked like there was going to be some really safe ice to fish on. Then the warm weather kept coming and, before you knew it, all of the ice was gone.

Over my years in the outdoors I have met a number of icefishermen who have tempted fate with forays on questionable ice. Some got a freezing soaking when the ice gave way. Others lucked out even though the ice was unsafe.

Have you ever gone through the ice? I have, and it is something I would not wish on anybody. It generally happens without warning and you have to keep in mind that the thickness of the ice on a body of water is not the same all over.

Varying factors can have an effect on ice thickness, including underwater springs that feed a body of water and, of course, moving water.

When you break through the ice, if you are lucky — if you can call going through the ice “lucky” — you will come up in the hole you went through.

The worst case scenario is that you might end up under solid ice with no opening through which to surface. But the worst is yet to come. The freezing water will force the breath from your lungs.

Because no ice is “guaranteed” safe, it is not a bad idea to have a set of Ice spikes on a lanyard to help you get back on the ice if you go through.

The ice spikes are nothing more than a pair of spikes sticking out of a pair of handles attached by a lanyard. You use the spikes to help you get back onto safe ice — sometimes.

I say “sometimes” because over the years I have seen some foolhardy stunts meant as a safety precaution on ice that could be unsafe. And please keep in mind that if you feel that the ice might be unsafe, why go on it at all?

Two episodes that stand out in my mind were a couple of gents wearing lifejackets while icefishing on Dog Pond in Goshen and another time where one of the sports who fishes Tyler Lake told me he was always the first one on the lake because he used boards put down on the ice to spread out his weight when he stood on them.

One of the worst-case scenarios in my book is having new ice under a blanket of snow. This eliminates your chances of seeing any flaws in the ice.

Whatever you do, PLEASE don’t rush it when icefishing. There is no fish worth dying for.

And keep in mind that each day is now getting a bit longer and this could make it harder for safe ice to form.

See ya’ and God Bless America and watch over our troops, police, firefighters and first responders wherever they may be serving this great country of ours.