We are finally slowly coming out of a brutal winter. By some estimates there are still 15 inches of ice on some of the lakes in Pennsylvania. In fact, Pennsylvania’s Mentored Youth Fishing Days of March 22 and April 5th, have been rescheduled to May 10th to allow for the thaw. I don’t know about you, but I’m ready for some fishing that involves casting. The recent slightly warmer temperatures have opened more water on the streams and rivers and anglers are once again exploring fishing opportunities without huts.
But the water remains cold. I don’t have to numb my hand in it to know for sure; ice formations still abound. Giant icicles cling to rock cliffs. Sometimes, amusing shapes are formed on overhanging branches as water levels fluctuate overnight.
Some ice formations are more frustrating than amusing. When below freezing, avoid using some of the multi-fiber superlines like braid or Fireline. These hold more water and can lead to ice jammed guides more quickly. However, even though I was using monofilament fishing line on my last fishing trip, I still had to break ice out of the guides every three or four casts.
Iced rod guides are hard on line. (No pun intended.) If you feel resistance due to icing, the monofilament which already wants to loop in cold water, now tries to curl just like that trick when you scrape scissors on gift package ribbons. I’ve heard of using Chap Stick on the guides to reduce icing. I’ll risk chapped lips and try this next time.
The water may be opening but beware of venturing out on the remaining ice shelves. Safety first. Best just to stay off. Be a little more patient. Fish a different area. Maybe it will be gone in another week or two.
Andy Whitcomb is a columnist, outdoor humorist, and stressed-out Dad living in Pennsylvania. Visit him at www.justkeepreeling.com.