More than a foot of ice blankets most of the area lakes and anglers have been hitting hard these past few weeks. Rain, here and there, has taken a day or two from us, but overall conditions couldn’t be better for late January.
This weekend, I stood on Hills Creek and watched as more than 100 men, women and children competed in the second annual ice fishing derby on Hills Creek. The bite was on and anglers found a mixed bag of panfish, bass, pickerel and even a few walleye. Shallow water around the stumps end has been the most productive, but a few are doing well out in front of the beach and closer to the dam too.
Hamilton Lake is fishing extremely well also. Rain showers this week, might murky the water some, but for the past week, the bite has been great. Trout, panfish, bass and pickerel are all being caught in good numbers.
Good areas to target include the deep water closer to the dam, and any drop-offs on the upper end by the boat launch. Some fish are being caught real shallow, but for the most part, the best fishing has been in 15-30 feet of water. Waxworms, maggots (spikes) and lures rigged on a chartreuse, silver or gold jig have been best.
Trout fishing has been very good, too, on Beechwood and Lyman Run lakes. To target them, try jigging with waxworms and live minnows or use a tip-up rigged with Powerbait or minnows. All of the local lakes were restocked in the fall and some really big ones up to 24 inches have been caught.
Trout are typically roamers. They move around a lot and often stay travel in small schools. Target them at a variety of depths. If you’re setting tip-ups, try them at all different depths until you find what’s working, then adjust accordingly. It’s not uncommon to see trout travelling just inches below the ice.
Finally, the Corps lakes are also in great shape and anglers are enjoying a variety of panfish. Crappie fishing on Hammond and Cowanesque has been very good for some anglers. Look for areas of deep, off shore structure or downed trees to find the schools. Some nice bass and perch are also being caught. A few have targeted muskies with limited success. The fish of 10,000 casts continues to earn its reputation as a picky eater through the winter season.
If all goes well, we’ll have another month of good ice fishing here in Tioga County. Get out and enjoy it, while you can. Good luck and be safe out there.