Hitting the Hard Water

By: Owen Nizzi

Thus far, Mother Nature has shown her inner bipolar weather trends towards northwestern Pennsylvania and southwestern New York. The people of the tristate area have experienced one of the weirdest winters to date, with temperatures varying from the single digits to warm stretches in the upper fifties.  This type of weather makes ice fishing very difficult.  According to the Pennsylvania Fish and Boat Commission, safe ice fishing requires the ice to be at least three inches thick to handle one fisherman and his or her gear. Gear normally includes a few tip ups and possible jigging rods, depending the fisherman’s style.  Many people also choose to use live bait due to the fact that most fish remain dormant under the ice and the live bait acts as an enticer to liven up the fish.

At this current date both the Allegheny Reservoir and Chautauqua Lake are deemed unsafe to fish. The brave ice fisherman that have ventured out onto the marginal hard water have had some luck this year catching an array of species ranging from the smallest perch all the way to a world class musky. The Squire reeled in local ice fishing connoisseur and Scandia native, Garret Bailey, to get a firsthand ice fishing report.

The Squire:   Do you fish the Allegheny Reservoir or Chautauqua Lake and why?

Garret Bailey: I always fish the Rez because I have had the best luck there in the past.

TS: Where do you consider your honey hole?

GB: My honey hole is really a secret, but I prefer to fish around the old Wolf Run Marina.

TS: Thus far this year, even battling dangerous ice, did you manage to reel in some hog daddy rippers?

GB: I managed to jig in a few and even caught me a few northern pike, brother.

TS:  What type of gear do you slay the old  river monsters with?

GB: I prefer tip ups, jigging is too much work. You just set ‘em up and relax.

TS: To this date, what is the biggest fish you have pulled thru the hard water?

GB:  I honestly have caught too many to count; I’d say it be a 28 inch northerner. She was quite the chunk.

The Squire would like to thank Garret Bailey for his time. Remember kids, stay safe if you venture out to ice fish in the few cold days we have remaining this season. With spring coming, it’s time to get back outdoors and prep for the upcoming spring gobbler season.

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