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Story 2009 Frozen Fish Folly

Page history last edited by Jerome Moisand 13 years, 12 months ago

FFF 2009: Frozen Fish Folly



Jan 1st, 2009


Boston, MA


Fishing with Domm

See also

All pics in Picasa album


The story


Around mid December, the FFF bug started gnawing at me... You need to do it again... You need to catch the first carp of the year... Maybe you should give Domm a call... I did, and he was game. So I started to do the same as in previous years, try to find a new spot to go try my luck. Two sessions in Watertown (where I did catch carp in December two years ago) didn't produce. I wished I would have been able to baptize this clever triangular drop-net a friend designed for me, but this wasn't to be.
While walking around another day, I noticed that the Charles river water went under the Museum of Sciences though sluices. And the water goes out on the other side in a deep basin, with no trace of ice in the basin (while the rest of the Charles was frozen by then). I knew that some carp roam in this basin, but I had never tried to fish it. This seemed promising, alas the flow turned out to be too strong for winter carp to hold. I tried nevertheless, to no avail.
Then we had one session with Domm at another spot on a 62F springlike day. I prebaited the evening before. When I started fishing, the water was clear, but soon after, I really wished that I wouldn't get a take as a ton of thawing ice was slowly drifting. An hour later, the water was clear again, and I really wished I would get a take. Nah, nothing. An hour in Watertown finished convincing us that we had again failed at finding a new suitable location, and would have to come back to our usual winter spot.

By then, we had another bad surprise. Although the weather was very mild until Dec 30th, the weatherman (traitor!) indicated that we'd have a snowstorm on the 31st, and very low temperature (in the teens) plus a severe 25mph windchill on Jan 1st... Now, I don't mind trying crazy things while fishing, and I don't give up easily, but this seemed rather extreme, plus I just couldn't see how the water wouldn't freeze.


Dec 31st came, and the snowstorm as well. I had prebaited the evening before just in case. The snow did stop end of the afternoon, Domm was ready to go, so I drove to the swim around 10:30pm. And oh miracle, the water was free of ice. I couldn't believe our luck. Although I had many layers on me, the windchill was a killer though. I dumped sweet feed pellets, and started to open a can of sweet of corn. It was frozen (having stayed in my car for a few hours)! I threw the frozen corn in the water and drove to pick up Domm. Due to a bit of a miscommunication, we didn't leave his apartment until 11:30pm. We were cutting it seriously short!


We arrived at the swim at 11:50pm, just 10 more minutes to go. I threw a few more kernels of sweet corn in the water, and we set up our rods. We were ready by 11:58! I took the time to quickly set up the net, and we lowered our rigs in the water at midnight. Domm was confident and using only one rod. I was less confident and was using two rods. It was hard to believe that we could catch in such awful weather. Two minutes later, my right rod started to twitch! And I was on! I dragged the fish on the side of the bridge, bringing the net with me when Domm yelled "I have one too and it is tangled in your other rod". Sorry, nothing much I could do before landing my own fish. Which proved interesting, because the net was already frozen solid! I finally got the fish out, checked the time, 12:05, cool. Domm was urging me to go land his fish (luckily, he somehow succeeded to get free of my 2nd line). I didn't know what to do with my fish, pressed by time, we hadn't set a landing mat yet. So, I did something bad... I just left the fish on the ground. I tried to net Domm's fish, slipped and almost fell to the river. I regained my foot hold, and I slipped again! I finally landed Domm's fish, checked the time, it was 12:07, this was just amazing to catch a brace of New Year's Day fish in such conditions.


Now we needed pictures. And my camera refused to work. I finally figured out that the battery must be in the wrong position, fixed it, and the camera booted, and displayed 1:12am. Now that's wrong. I fumbled with the menu, fixed the time, looked at Domm, and he pointed at the fish. Darn, both fish were in really bad shape by then. They were still alive when we took those awful pictures, believe it or not. Sadly, after we released them, one of them (probably mine) went belly up and didn't recover.

Well, this taught us a few lessons... Lesson#1. Do not put carp on a frozen ground. Lesson#2, take one fish at a time, no more. Lesson#3: do not waste any time, take a quick pic and release it as soon as possible. It's ok to make mistakes, but not twice...


Now we could relax, and fish in a more coordinated manner. So we set up the landing mat, used only one rod each, and got ready for the next take. Er, didn't take long for Domm to be on a second fish. So I reeled in, and we went through the moves in a much better way this time. This turned out to be a really small fish, a whooping 3-10lber. Weighing it with the wind wasn't easy, but this one made it safely back to the water, we came back to our rods and lowered them in the water again. I got a run, but we lost this fish close to shore. Tricky to land a fish with a frozen net, plus the water level was really low and slippery rocks were in the way. So we decided to land the fish farther away where there is easier access to open water. Lesson#4 learned!


We came back, Domm lowered his rig in the water while I was fumbling with my rig, trying to put new sweet corn on the hair. Which isn't that easy when your headlamp doesn't work well, plus the sweet corn is frozen, plus ice is forming in the loop of the hair and your hands are freaking cool. Oh, and my thumb was oozing blood from a cut. I was still struggling when Domm had his next take. He was on a roll! Yeah, well, except that he handled his first fish with his bare hands, and this is NOT a good idea to have wet hands in such weather. Did I mention the air temperature? It was 12 degrees Fahrenheit, roughly minus 10 degrees Celsius. And the windchill kept furiously blowing. Lesson#5: do not wet your hands in such weather!

I was still trying to fix my rig when Domm lowered his in the water, and no surprise, got a take right away. Fish landed, back to the water, this time, I succeeded to put my rig in the water, but Domm beat me again to the finish line! So I reeled in, and netted the biggest fish of the evening, a nice 12 pounder and a psychedelic picture coming with it. Lesson#6, switch off headlamps before taking pictures!

I have to admit I was getting a tad frustrated, but Domm was smarter than me, fishing with a kernel of maize that didn't fell off. So he caught five fish in a row with the same bait! Domm was getting really really cold though and couldn't feel his feet or hands anymore. So we decided that I should get one last fish and go home! Domm started to wrap up while I put my rig in the cold water. Took a little while, and my rod finally started to twitch. Usual routine, dragging the fish to the side, but it felt really light. I thought I had caught an even smaller carp than Domm's second fish, but no, it turned out I had landed a crappie. Hmpf. Was time to go to bed.


I still took time to measure the water temperature (was around 35 degrees F) and to throw some maize and pellets in the water. We were absolutely convinced that we would catch tens of fish during the day, and agreed to meet at 8AM after a few hours of sleep. I left my buckets and my net on the bank, I just couldn't dismantle the net, it was frozen solid, as you can see from a picture I took later in the morning!

Night went by without much sleep, I had visions of frozen fish swirling in my mind, although we had learned how to do it much more properly during this rough night. So around 8:30am, we were back, very hopeful, with a weather which was almost as cold as during the night, with the same fierce windchill, but a blue sky made it look much better! Here is a cool pic of the sunrise when I left my home in the morning.

We arrived at the river, and our hopes suddenly deflated at the speed of light. Our fishing spot was all frozen. We left a bit after 1am, there was no sign of ice anywhere, and seven hours later, there was a good inch of ice on top of where we KNEW that hundreds of carp were congregrated!

Domm was really crushed. He didn't fish for months, we had this great start at midnight, we knew we could land one after the other today if... we had access to free water! There was a small patch of open water on the side, I decided to give it a try, although Domm stated right away what I also knew... This wasn't where fish were. Still, I didn't want to give up, and set up my pod in the snow, threw small amounts of bait and we froze our butts for an hour before I finally had enough.


We pondered to go try the water discharge nearby, but the water level was very low, and there was just no point. Still, I didn't want to give up! So we threw some maize and pellets in the opening, and decided that I would come back mid afternoon, and see if the ice configuration had changed. I drove Domm home, went home myself, had a good warm lunch, took a nap, snore a lot (according to my wife and kids, but this can't be true), and found difficult to shake myself to go back on the bank. Once I was there, the ice configuration hadn't changed at all, so my only faint hope was that fish would have found my bait and moved in the opening. I set up my rods, not quite believing in what I was doing, but if you don't try, you never succeed. The time passed while I was making pics of some strangely beautiful frozen sticks.

Finally, after 90 minutes of chilling wind (air temp was in the low twenties by then) and no move at all on my rods, I had to admit defeat. Boston's harsh winter won. But hey, we did catch right after midnight, and have a pretty good chance of having landed the very first 2009 carp in North America, so it was all worth it. As a nice sunset showed its colors on the frozen river, I dumped the rest of my maize and pellets in the water opening, and those carp will find it, no doubt. Yes, they do feed in the winter!

PS. just checked my net on the porch. It is still frozen solid!


Final results: first carp of the year!


The final results were published in the NACA  (the CAG magazine), and I did catch the first carp of the year! Been after this prize for a few years... Cool. Even better, Domm caught the second one of the year. Was worth freezing our butts!



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