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Eight tips for remaining safe when fishing on ice. Wochit

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“To enjoy bodily warmth, some small part of you must be cold, for there is no quality in this world that is not what it is merely by contrast. Nothing exists in itself.”  — Herman Melville, "Moby Dick"

Soon. It will happen soon.

The tide is going to be dropping along a local river and the water will clear. Hopefully it will be sunny with white clouds lazily floating along a blue backdrop. More likely it will be cloudy, the sky washed with a dishwater gray. 

Hopefully it will be warm (or at least “warmish”) and the sun will feel friendly on my face nurturing hopes of an early spring, like slowly blowing on a campfire’s embers to coax a flame. 

More likely snow flurries will dance like dust motes across an afternoon windowpane or, perhaps, sleet, falling with a “tick” on the ruffled surface of the river.

All of those things are “maybes” — who knows which of them will come true. It is a sure bet, though, that I’ll be out there trying find a few early yellow perch and, with the same surety that while trying to reach the sandbar where the fish congregate on the dropping tide, my boot is going to leak.

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It might just be a little creep of cold water through some dry rot. It could be a flooding inundation of a hole newly earned by a sharp stick. But like the fact that the tides keep rolling, it will happen.

I suppose that it’s all part and parcel in that early fishing. For many reasons, though, that early fishing can be some of the best of the year. 

The water, as I can attest with my ripped boot, is cold; thus the fish will be firm fleshed and flaky when they get fried up (yeah, you have to do them that way at least for the first couple times). The overture to the angling season can never be sullied by being dried out in some oven.

Winter panfishing has more than great eating going for it for sure. All selling off of the quality of life in lower Delaware for yet another development of cookie-cutter McMansions aside, there are relatively few people around fishing this time of year. You can pretty much call the shots in terms of where to set up.

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The scenery can be breathtaking as well. The simple blacks, grays and whites of the snowbanks and mirrored surfaces of the water have an elegant simplicity, sort of like the Yankees' traveling uniforms. Creatures that you often can’t catch a glimpse of, such as river otter, can come sliding down the bank. It really can be a great time for an angling experience.

There is supposed to be a little warmer weather this weekend, so maybe you can get out there and wet a line to ring in the new season. Good luck and good fishing!

Reports, comments or questions to captjackrodgers@comcast.net. 

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