Mild Winter is Melting Ice Fishing Dreams

Milder temperatures are melting the hopes of ice fishermen in the area, and putting a freeze on some winter sales for businesses who depend on them.

"It's the thrill," Fisherman Patrick Russell said when asked why he likes to fish. "You catch them or you don't. You catch them and fine. I throw them back. It's a lot of times just getting out."

The love of fishing is one reason Russell owns B&E Fishing Tackle Inc.

During the winter, his business depends on ice fishing, but right now the season is on hold. The Department of Environmental Conservation recommends there is at least three to four inches of ice before going ice fishing, and that's nowhere to be found.

Russell said local fishermen and businesses are going a little crazy. No ice, means less winter business. His is down by about half, but he said it's worse for others

"Most (bait and tackle shops) are mom and pops," Russell said. "It's really got to be hurting them a lot. I would say 60 percent probably."

Bayside Pub owner Rob Buono is not used to seeing water and no ice when he looks out onto the bay this time of year.

"We will see hundreds (of ice fishermen)," he said. "They're all speckled all over the place. Whether its in the middle of the bay or over here."

He's fearful they may not be able to ice fish at their annual ice fishing derby .

"It's depressing," he said. "Because the ice fishing derby is February 11. For us, it's giant. We have about 250 to 300 contestants in it - people come out if the wood works."

There's some ice on the bay, but it breaks easily at the touch, but Russell said the mild weather hasn't ruined all fishing in the area.

"There's still people coming in," he said. "The weather is nice. So, they get out. They want to go stream fishing, but they'd love to go ice fishing."

Russell still has hope the temperatures will drop and stay low enough to allow some ice fishing. However, the businesses man is prepared for the worst if Mother Nature decides not to bring the frigid temperatures.

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