I am going to state the obvious here by saying what I am sure everyone knows. It is cold. Very cold, which was a deciding factor in my style of fishing that I went with this weekend. I was sure of one thing - and that was that I was going to fish - but how and where was the question. With some research on water levels, weather, and some phone calls, Heath and I decided to go icefishing on Lake Arthur. Some really handy tools for finding this information include apps on your phone. There are many out there, but the easiest to maneuver and the most accurate that I have found are River Data for the streamflows and The Weather Channel for the weather. These are both very handy tools to have in your arsenal, and I use them almost every time I set out to fish. Temperature has never really scared me off, although I usually try to give the fish at least two days to adjust to a sudden change in temperature. I will say I do better more often then not with water temperatures that you would think are entirely too cold for the fishing to be good. The main deterrent for me today from steelhead fishing in Erie was the winds. The forecast called for twenty five to forty mph winds, which is too much for even me to battle. They were right for once, the winds were blowing our hut around on the ice if no one was sitting in it at the lake today.
Lake Arthur is located in Moraine State Park, close to route 19 and state route 422. I have a pretty accurate map that has all fishable waters in pa listed in it, and I usually try to pick up a local map at every bait shop that I go to most places that I fish. Both of these come in very handy. The ice was thin in areas, and I had to tread lightly while making my way out onto the ice, checking in four to eight feet increments. We couldn't go much more then forty feet off of the shore due to the ice being about three and a half inches thick and getting thinner the further you went out. Also, any areas that had snow on it just had slush underneath of it. A general rule of thumb is four inches of good clear ice is plenty safe for foot traffic and lightweight gear, anything less than two inches is dangerous. STAY OFF. All in all, we had a good day between the two of us. We put at least fifty fish on the ice, most of them keeper blue gill, with six mid-size perch and one small crappy. The best time of the day for us was from four to six o'clock, although we caught fish all day in spurts, some better then others. Almost all fish were caught today on a gold jig with a wax-worm or two for garnish, or a rainbow diamond jig with the same. We did pick up some fish on maggots and one or two on minnies. For those of you out there who ice fish, I would allow some more time for ice to build, and find structure or a channel in the lake that you are fishing. These two things always seem to work for me. If anyone would like advice on the gear required for this manner of fishing, feel free to ask. I will be glad to help. Most of all be safe and I hope you have the same luck we did if not better til the next time.