The smaller lakes and ponds now have a safe layer of ice, and it is time to go fishing.
One of our favorite early ice fishing ponds in White Lake in Tamworth. It is easy to access and when Fish and Game stocks broodstock brook trout, the action can be fast and furious.
We get to White Lake in one of two ways. The easy way is to take the dead-end road off Depot Street to the cartop boat launch. This parking area has limited space, so getting to the lake early is advantageous.
The longer way to the lake is to park at the gated road to the park and snowshoe in. If we have all day to fish, this makes it more of an adventure.
When we take the dead-end road to the boat access for White Lake, we start to drill holes almost immediately. The stocked brook trout do not venture far from where Fish and Game plants them. The outlet stream keeps good flow, and the baitfish will concentrate in this area early in the season.
The limit on lines is five per person. We will put up four tip-ups and then jig with our fifth line.
If we elected to snowshoe to the lake, we will fish the beach area. Brook trout will cruise this portion of the lake looking for schools of baitfish. The shallow water is ideal for jigging. We drill a series of holes from 5 feet off the beach and every 5 feet out from shore from there.
Here, we jig the first hole and if we have no action, we will put a tip-up in the hole and move out to the next hole we have cut. After fishing the first five holes, we move 10 feet down the beach and do five more holes. This lets us cover a quite a bit of water until we find fish.
After the brook trout have been fished out, we like to chase the catfish, or brown bullheads. These fish can get rather large and are a fine eating fish. We have only caught these fish using bait. Our favorite bait is the Berkley Gulp, an artificial bait that imitates the earthworm, a favorite food of the bullhead.
When targeting the bullheads, we go to the left of the parking area about halfway down the lake. Here the lake quickly goes from 4 feet deep to 40 feet deep. We drill holes at 10-foot intervals from shallow to deep and put our baits next to the bottom of the lake. This lets us find the depth where the bullheads are congregating.
Once you find where these fish are, the action will be consistent. Interestingly, we have our best success fishing for bullheads from dusk into the darkness of the evening.
If pickerel are your fancy, we like to jig for them at the shallower north end of the lake. While pickerel will take bait from a tip-up, once you find where the pickerel are in the lake, jigging for them can provide non-stop action.
Any flashy jigging lure will work. We like to use Al’s Goldfish, Kastmaster in perch color, or a traditional Daredevil. After you open the bail of your jig rod and let the lure settle to the bottom, be ready. A fish may strike at any moment.
Tip of the Week
Help prevent the spread of invasive baitfish. When you are finished with your baitfish, do not drop them down one of your holes. Leave them on the ice surface for prey to eat.
Steve Angers is a native son to the Conway area. He has been consumed by fishing since catching his first wild brook trout at the base of Champney Falls.