Ice fishermen are having their best year in a decade. Ice thickness varies from place to place with most holding well over a foot of safe ice.
Anglers are hitting all the ponds big and small and finding the pickerel and perch to be most willing. Trout are coming through the ice but they are a bit more finicky. Pike action is slow but when you do find one and you're not ready they will spool you in seconds.
Now for the bonus for those of you who are tired of the same old same old. The Division of Fisheries and Wildlife was able to get the last group of brood stock Atlantic Salmon from the federal fish hatchery in Nashua.
These salmon weigh between 4 and 10 pounds each. They have all been liberated in a few local ponds over the past two weeks. Those are Baddacook, Horn and Saltonstall.
Catching them is not easy but a tip is to use a large shiner placed just a couple feet under the ice. Allow the bait to swim well, not bogged down via a weight. Salmon cruise the upper section of the water and rarely go deep, keeping your chances of success low if you fish down there.
Jig fishing also works well. A cast master is tops because it shines under water. They will strike and strike hard. If you're not ready they will pull the rod out of your hand. Plenty of backing is needed to get this fish through the hole. It will be the best fight of your life.
This and that...
Maine and New Hampshire moose permits are now available on line.
Maine will issue about the same number as 2013 but New Hampshire will only issue about 125 permits, down from 275 permits last season. The tick is the reason. Sean Dillon of Lowell wrote a note to me and said there was a huge shortage of moose in Coos County.
New York had two hunting fatalities for their entire deer and bear hunting season, which is the lowest in the state's history. They did have 16 hunting accidents with 14 self-inflicted. Those are dumb accidents.
Mass. Marine Fisheries have declared the smelt an endangered species. There just have not been any to catch in several years and now Maine and New Hampshire waters have none. Eel grass is missing and smelt need this to survive. Too many storms have wiped it out.
The Big E Sportsman's show ends today at 5 p.m. Over 600 vendors will go home until next year.
The show at the DCU Center in Worcester was half the show it was five years ago. Fewer vendors by far. Several companies were there selling gutters. To me that is neither hunting nor fishing.
Mass Wildlife set up a trail cam on a deer carcass in Boylston and watched a bald eagle feed. The camera was able to take pictures clear enough to see the bird was banded and the numbers on the band were visible enough to read. They traced the bird to a Rhode Island nest in 2006. Now that eagle has set up housekeeping there in Boylston with a mate.
The Pelham Fish and Game Club's Fly Fishing Show is March 2 and 3. The hours are 9 to 4 and 9 to 3. Dozens of booths will be available to visit.
The Townsend Rod and Gun Club will host the Annual Game Dinner on March 15 at 6 p.m. It's all you can eat for $15 per person. This popular event has grown each year with many dishes coming from all over. The club is located on Emery Road in Townsend.
Last thought of the week is for the striped bass. There has been a great deal of lobbying to get the striped bass fishery completely changed. A group called Stripers Forever has their heart in the right place but I disagree with what they want.
They propose the fish become classified as a game fish, which is OK, but they also want no fish killed -- ever. They claim there is too much over-fishing and catch-and-release does not work.
People should be allowed to keep a pair of fish if they want for the dinner table. The commercial fishery took 900,000 pounds in two weeks last year, showing the fishery is not so over-fished that they took the limit in two weeks. Down south they have limits of five million pounds in some states. The sky is not falling as SF is forecasting.
Bill Biswanger's email address is firstname.lastname@example.org