December 2, 2021

G-gone f-f-fishin’

Joe McIntyre/staff photographer

Jamie Ayres, of Moravia, fishes on the ice of Goodale Lake on Wednesday in Preble.

Pausing mid- sentence, Jamie Ayres looked at his fishing pole as it began to bend.

While reeling the line in quickly it wasn’t long before the fisherman from Moravia was pulling a perch through a small hole in the ice.

It was around 11 a.m. Wednesday; Ayres said he had been out on Goodale Lake along Route 11 in Preble since 8:30 a.m. It was his third time ice fishing this season.

The weather was cold, but the wind barely blew. Ayres knelt on the ice, a sled next to him filled with a bucket, an ice scoop, a tackle box and an extra fishing pole. For bait, he used minnows and plastic lures.

Throughout the morning, Ayres moved between a handful of holes catching two or three fish out of each before moving on to the next. He was looking for a feast.

“Pan fried or deep fried,” he said.

Ayres has been ice fishing for 12 years now, he said.

On Goodale Lake pickerel and panfish — including perch and blue gills — are the main species anglers go for, according to the state Department of Environmental Conservation.

Ayres isn’t the only one who ventures out onto the ice to fish. The Whitney Point Sportsmen Club hosts the almost-annual New York State Crappie Derby. The event had been canceled in 2015 and 2016 because of warm weather and insufficient ice, but it’s on for this year — Feb. 17.

In 2014, the last time the derby was hosted, a 15-inch-thick layer of ice covered the lake, according to the derby’s website.

That year, the event drew around 3,500 people and raised more than $15,000, according to the website.

Before people start ice fishing they should be aware of safety.

A general rule is making sure there is a minimum of 4 inches of solid ice, according to the DEC. Ice thickness, however, is not uniform on any body of water, so check it with an auger or ice spud at various spots.

Depending on where he drilled his holes Wednesday, Ayres said there was anywhere from 6 inches to 8 1/2 inches of ice on Goodale Lake.

“Ice fishing is a popular sport in New York state and with the post-Christmas drop in temperature, I am sure anglers are looking forward to an early start to the season this year,” DEC Commissioner Basil Seggos said in an email. “The rush to get out onto the ice can lead to tragedy unless anglers remain vigilant to the condition of the ice. Anglers should heed DEC’s recommendation of at least 4 inches of solid clear ice before venturing out on the ice.”

Ayres also had a few safety tips for people ice fishing for the first time. “Try to go out with someone else,” he said.

Ayres also suggested walking out every 20 yards and checking the ice thickness, he said. Also carry rope and let others know where and when you plan to fish.