Re: NANFA-- Jewels Beneath the Ice/winter collecting, easy, cold but worth it

R. W. Wolff (
Wed, 29 Nov 2000 00:02:04 -0600

This is long winded, but I think it has some really good info in it.

Collecting in the winter is easy. Look for the open water in otherwise
still water from some kind of current The fish will congregate here because
of the warmth of sunlight and also from the increased oxygen. Here in the
marsh for some reason the water doesnt freeze hard in most areas except wide
expanses until the nastiest weather in January, then there are still open
holes here and there. Lots of these are from springs, 50 degree water coming
out of the ground is like a steam bath in the dead of winter. In fact, on
the coldest day two winters ago, I had to go out and get feeder minnows for
my gar , bowfin and warmouth. It was 2 degrees. I bundled up so much I was
stiff like a scarecrow with only my eyes showing ( wearing sunglasses
though, protect your eyes from the sun reflection on snow and from cold
winds!). I got some of the water in a bucket, and dipped in huge shcools of
northern redbelly dace finescale dace, pearl dace,blacknose shiners, golden
shiners, brassy minnows, fathead minnows , iowa darters, yellow perch,
tadpole madtoms, yellow bullhead, black bullhead, central mudminnows, brook
sticklebacks, baby northern pike, pumpkinseeds, big amphipods and caddis fly
larvae all collected around the open area near a culvert. I had to
immediatly get the fish in the bucket or they would instantly be frozen.
The worst part was getting the pike, bullheads, madtoms, perch and sunfish
out, since they are not legal to dip net+ being next to a State Wildlife
refuge. I let them ride in the cab of the truck with me since the bucket
would have been have been like a slushy when I got home. It was nasty, but
alot of fun to go out and stick my tongue out at winter. Winter sucks, but
with a little bit of prepartion, it can still be enjoyed one day of the
Here is a list of equipment neccassary for collecting in cold weather (
under 20 degrees I would advise staying home if it below zero). Dress in
several layers. here is my favorite outfit. Start with your normal udner
clothes, then put on a jogging suit and cotton socks. Then jeans, a flannel
shirt and wool socks. next put coveralls over this. wear a stocking cap,
cotton gloves , and good boots. When you get to the collecting site, put
rubber atleast elbow length trapping gloves on. These are usually insulated
in the hands. Put on a pair of polarized sunglasse, pull your stocking cap
down over you face and zip the collar up on the cover alls. Then wrap a
scarf around your face and neck. I use only a 5 gallon pail and a long
handeled dip net. Have a hot mug of coffee waiting in the truck. Stop by
some sites you know the water is open and deeper than a couple inches,
current is a plus. Make sure this is an area with good footing. Dont go in
the water in severe cold. Fill the bucket with water. Set it in a handy spot
on shore a few feet away. Sweep the net through the water, and whatever
comes up, dump it in the pail immediatly. When you have had all you can
take ( 5 minutes) toss the net back in the vehicle, and set the bucket in
the heated part of your vehicle. With an aquraium net and a plastic bag you
can sort your catch. Be sure to quickly release any unwanted fish. In a
warm car the water will get warm quickly, and the fish will go into shock if
warmed too much. Dont forget to drink some of that hot coffee. If your
insides are warm, you will stay warmer. A quick thing, eat a hearty meal
with lots of carbohydrates and protein before going out. Spaghetti, or
oatmeal eggs and sausage or whatever. To acclimate your fish when you get
home, pour the water in a large sweater box and put an airstone in it. In a
cool area ( concrete floor) the fish will come out of winter mode in a few
days. Of course, if it is a nicer day, you can strip away some of the


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