Thanks to cold, freezing temperatures, we now have an ice fishing report and information on lakes and ponds.
Willie from Willie’s Bait & Tackle in Cementon reports several of his local customers took a trip to several Pocono lakes and found fishable ice on most of the waters they checked.
According to Willie, Upper and Lower Promised Land lakes both are averaging at least 4 inches of ice as does Minisink, Mud Pond and Shohola. The exception was Tobyhanna who had 5 inches, however some spots had 2.5 inches. Anglers were hooking pickerel, perch and a couple sizable bass mostly on waxworms.
Mike from Mike’s Bait & Tackle in Nazareth, also reported that both Promised Land lakes were holding about 6 inches of ice as did Tobyhanna. Shohola had 4 plus inches while Brady’s Lake had 4-4.5 inches. Per Mike, waxworms and shiners on tip-ups were the two most popular live baits that were attracting pickerel and panfish. With most snow cover gone from these lakes, ice formed quickly according to Mike.
As for equipment, the toughest part of ice fishing is drilling holes. Some ice anglers still use manual ice augers. But they do take lots of muscle power and time to drill a hole. The trend for some time has been gasoline-powered drills but it seems they are on the wane. As Willie explained, anglers who have them find that over the summer and when not in use the carburetor’s often clog-up requiring maintenance or replacement. Plus, they’re heavy.
Said Willie, many of his customers have switched to either propane powered ones or battery powered drills. But he believes the latter should be of the brushless kind and of enough torque and battery amps to drive an auger.
The preferred portable drill batteries are of 9 Ah and 12 Ah power ratings. More amps means longer run time. And they should be able to last the day on ice but that’s dependent upon how thick the ice is and how many holes are drilled. Or you can simply carry along an extra battery.
Smaller drills that are common household tools, often referred to as “picture hanger” drills, won’t cut it and they’ll likely burn out. The drill should have a half-inch chuck to accommodate most auger adapters. High torque drills from DeWalt, Milwaukee and Rigid should work, but it’s wise to check the warranty in case ice drilling fry’s the motor.
It’s also recommended the drill have an auxiliary handle so it doesn’t strain the wrist, or worse, get hit by the spinning drill if losing a grip on it.
Additionally, augers are offered with shaver blades or chipper blades. Shaver blades are preferred as they consume less power and cut the ice quicker.
Adapters can be purchased at Cabela’s and other sporting goods stores but they, says Willie, should have a cord or strap (life-line) that can be attached to the drill in case it comes lose from the drill chuck. You don’t want your investment falling into the drink.
Lastly, and some anglers may not know it, but Berkley offers their 100 percent Fluorocarbon Ice fishing line specifically for ice fishing. From their press release it says the line is thinner diameter per test pound, more supple, low stretch, low memory, and remains limber during cold temperatures. May be worth a try.
Nick Hromiak has been an outdoors and automotive writer for over 30 years. He's been published in numerous national and state-wide outdoor magazines and newspapers.