Bramwell Talks Ice Fishing

Photo: Traditions Media

After reaching minus 12 Sunday night, I decided to verify something someone told me in Alaska. “You have colder winters than we do.” He was referring to Homer and Seward along the coast.

I checked Tuesday afternoon. Homer & Seward had 42-degrees with rain. At Anchorage, it was 48. I like winter, but not when it is this cold and windy. What is an outdoor enthusiast to do? Go ice fishing, of course.

Once you get going, it will usually be fun. A portable ice shanty can save the day and I just happened to win an HT InstaShak last spring. Another winner wanted to trade something, he won, of equal value, but I had a feeling the shanty would come in handy this winter. The Shak goes nicely with a propane heater, I received for Christmas a year ago.

In weather reports, I-70 seems to be the dividing line for freezing temperatures, storms and precipitation. A week ago today, Bob May and I tried a small pond a couple of miles south of I-70. It only had 2.5-inches of ice. He tried another pond a few miles north of I-70 and it had five inches.

Our longest stretch of days not making it above freezing was 35 in 1977. It is supposed to get above freezing Sunday and Monday, then take a nose-dive through January 17. Christmas Eve was the last day we eclipsed the freezing mark. We are possibly looking @ 24 days of but two days below freezing, perhaps more.

This forecast opens opportunities not seen mostly since the 1980s and that is safe ice in southern Indiana. In the past 12-years, I have fished as far south as Spencer a few times, but that window of opportunity was very narrow.

I’m guessing one could fish Shakamak State Park’s three lakes or go up the road to Green-Sullivan State forest and fish one of their many lakes. Shakamak has cabins for rent.
I can remember when ice fishing Monroe was expected, an annual event. When the Army Corps raised the water level, locals would put out planks so anglers could access the ice.
A fellow writer recently said, “The only safe ice is in your glass.” That might hold water, but I feel at ease on four-inches of new ice. Black ice that has thawed and frozen several times can be suspect.

Last Friday, fishing in south Madison County, May and I caught fish from two ponds. Small fish came from the first pond and a mixed bag from the second. I caught two large bluegill on the same line at the same time. My largest fish, a 9.5-inch redear. We kept 13 and put the rest back.

My cousin Jay Bramwell is an avid ice angler with Summit Lake almost in his back yard. He and two friends caught 38 bluegill, last Friday.

He was surprised at me using two hooks per line and wanted to know how I rig. His thinking was the top hook would be restricted from a natural or free range of movement. I first thread my line through a snap hook with ice jig attached. Then, using a Palomar knot, tie a snap hook with jig on the tag end of the line. Finally, I slide the top lure up five to seven inches from the bottom and tie two square knots. The snap hooks allow the ice jigs to move freely and will aid you in catching more fish. They can be found on page 119 of the 2018 Net Craft catalog. They come in three sizes; buy small and medium.

Rick Bramwell
Rick L. Bramwell is 74 years old and began writing for the Anderson Herald Bulletin in 1972. He likes to hunt small game, deer, turkey and morel mushrooms. Bramwell’s 174-7/8 typical whitetail is the largest ever taken in Madison County. He used to compete in Red Man and BASS Federation tournaments, but is now content to fish ponds and small lakes for bass and panfish. For most of 43 years Bramwell has coached Baseball and softball. He has three grown children and resides in Madison County, near Pendleton.


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