ALL Posted Jan 09, 2014 By: Rachel Moffatt New Year's Day On The Ice 2014 started off for me the best way any year can for an angler...on the water. The hard water to be specific. We've had an unusually cold winter in Southern Ontario and it has provided local anglers with the rare opportunity to ice fish our home waters for more than the few short weeks we usually get in the deepest parts of mid winter. On Jan 1, 2014 I met up with local anglers Rob Hewitson and Richard Sims who took me to one of their favourite winter spots to try for crappie, panfish and maybe even one of the big pike that Richard is known for. Rob and Rich got set up and were fishing by dawn, whereas I ended up sleeping in by accident. I hurried along and through a flurry of texts back and forth, found them out on the ice, far apart from the other anglers taking advantage of the prime conditions. By the time I got there they had each iced some fish, with Rob catching and releasing this lovely crappie. Unfortunately, after I arrived the bite mostly died off. Rob was marking fish on his Humminbird 570 but we couldn't tease any into biting. We were all getting nibbles from the tiny little bluegills but none of them were big enough to take the bait. Then suddenly, Richard gets a good solid hit, that at first he missed. The fish hits again, and Rich sets the hook. After a very short fight he lands a small Largemouth Bass. It was out of season, so of course, it went right back down the hole. Not long after that he caught another, bigger, Largemouth and it too went right back in. After those unseasonable catches, we just could not get a bite. All three of us tried all sorts of tactics, from switching depths, trying everything from Jigging Rap's to micro jigs, plastics, live minnows, salties, spoons and soft waxies. We tried jigging patterns and dead sticking, even a fishy song or two. I even tried chumming my spot with crackers, only to find that they float and don't do any good at all. Dozens of holes were drilled and a vast amount of skills and know-how were tossed down those holes, but we just couldn't coax the fish into turning on the bite. During the morning, heavy snow clouds appeared and the temperature dropped. It was clear that a weather front was moving in and Rob and I guessed that this may have had something to do with the serious case of lockjaw that the fish were displaying. The three of us decided to move to another nearby waterbody and try again. The water there was shallower and weedy and almost right away Rich marked a large fish and had his hopes raised that he'd found his pike. He set a tip up and also jigged a spoon, but to no avail. The big fish was there but not biting. Rob also dropped a pike line to see if he could get the big fish interested, while I switched my micro jigs for a silver spoon. There was one heart pounding moment when my drag started to squeal and my rod bent quite convincingly.... unfortunately I learned that that little lake has some tough weeds!! Not long after, the sonar showed the big fish had moved on and we switched our gear back to minnows and panfish jigs. Rob caught a few sunfish while Rich drilled more holes looking for a depth change that might be harbouring his big pike. Finally he found himself a spot under a tree where he had a pretty steady bite of small bluegill and perch. Not what he was looking for but at least some reward for all of his labours. Meanwhile I kept jigging away, intent on catching something, anything, to start my 2014 angling year off. It was getting colder, starting to snow, and I had been at it for several hours. But I was determined to get my hero fish, the one fish you catch that saves the day from a skunking. I switched to a white jig that was tied with some sparkly yarn and put on some Gulp! Crappie Nibblets. They almost never work, but at this point I had nothing to lose. I put the jig down in the weeds and just jiggled it up and down a tiny bit. And then, there it was...a tiny little tap-a-tap. I pulled up, and thought I had missed it. But I didn't!! I had my first 2014 fish, a true hero fish. I had sat in -12 for 5 hours, with a snow storm bearing down on us and got him.... First Fish of 2014 He's not much to brag about, my little bluegill, but after fishing for so long, catching ANYTHING was fun and he made the day a success. Not only did I get to spend a day on the ice with two accomplished anglers and friends, fishing and catching up, but I ended the day face to face with one of the prettiest fish in Ontario's waters. All in all, a great start to a new year and I look forward for what is to come.