• Jig’s up for Lynch prey
    By Dennis Jensen
    STAFF WRITER | January 19,2014
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    Photo by Dennis Jensen

    Jim Lynch of Castleton jigs for perch during a morning last week on Lake Bomoseen. In the foreground is a fish-finder, which can be a real bonus while trying to find, and catch, fish.
    CASTLETON ó Itís just about daylight and the sky is spitting snow as I drag my sled from the icy shore to the frozen surface of Lake Bomoseen.

    My traction cleats, attached to the bottom of my insulated boots, fail to grip the ice as I walk. Iím slipping all over the place. It is so bad that I find myself dragging my feet as I go. That wouldnít be a big deal, but my fishing partner, Jim Lynch, is headed out toward a place some 300 yards away.

    ďStamp your feet, to get the snow out of the cleats,Ē Jim yells back to me, barely breaking his stride. That works, for about two steps, but then the new snow builds up and the going gets almost as slippery as if I were trekking along without any cleats at all.

    Itís 12 degrees and the falling snow blocks visibility beyond 400 yards. But the one big blessing on the morning is the lack of wind.

    As we loaded the truck with our sleds, piled with ice fishing gear 15 minutes earlier, Jim turned to me with a smile. ďIíve got a surprise for this morning,Ē he said.

    He loaded a fish finder on my sled in the bed of the truck but I thought nothing of it because it was the only fish finder in sight.

    Reaching our destination a short while later, we unloaded our gear and thatís when the big surprise was revealed: Jim had purchased a new fish-finder and I would have the privilege of fishing with his older, still very reliable, fish-finder.

    As we near our destination, the snow begins to taper off and visibility across the lake becomes much better. I am amazed to see that not a single other ice fisherman can be spotted at any point along the big lake.

    Jim drills a series of about a half-dozen holes through the 7-inch-thick ice and I take the skimmer and clear away slush and ice from one. Then he offers up a demonstration on how the fish-finder works. Itís fairly simple: A short, floater-like device goes into the water and shows the depths below. A series of colors flash as you lift your jig up and down. Then, suddenly the color red appears, designating a fish.

    I fished the first hole for about 10 minutes without any luck, then moved to a second hole in the ice. This time, as I moved my rod tip up and down, I spotted a solid red line, right next to the lines that marked my sinker and jig. The red line was in view for at least a minute, then vanished from the screen.

    What gives?

    ďIt happens,Ē Jim said. ďSometimes a perch comes right up to the bait, looks at it and swims away.Ē

    The snow has just about stopped and, one hour into fishing, Iím still without a single perch in the bucket. With Jim, of course, itís a different story; he already has three or four fish. I have the added advantage of a gadget that shows you fish, as does Jim, and still I canít be the angler he is.

    Fact is, when it comes to jigging for perch, I doubt if I will ever be.

    But this isnít some kind of fishing competition, is it? This is about taking home some winter perch, taking the filet knife out and frying up what has to be the best fish you can catch, in my opinion, in the winter.

    I am seated on the bucket and, in a flash, I can see the thick red line of a fish. A moment later, the tip of my little jig pole is bent violently toward the ice. I reel up and a fat, female perch is dancing on the ice.

    The morning wears on and I manage to reel in one more fish, another large female. Jim has six fish in his bucket when we decide to call it quits. He asks me if I want to take his half-dozen home with me, but I pass on it and instead drop my two fish into his bucket.

    I take it real slow as we begin the long trek back to the truck. I canít say Iím disappointed about the day. I got some exercise, spent a morning out on the ice with a great pal and caught some fish.

    As we make our way across the ice, I scan the ice for any other angling activity. I canít see a single ice fisherman.

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