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Hunter’s Corner: Bait’s the easy part, landing a fish not so much

Last Sunday was a great day for ice fishing.

Getting bait was a simple task. Go west on Clinton Street and just after the I-89 underpass take a left at the blinking light and take your next left. The live bait signs helped. Robb was impressed, because in the summer months he and his friend Dan fish Stumpfield Marsh and this is on the way.

The lake we were fishing had 12-plus inches of clear blue ice. A high-pressure cell had moved into the area, resulting in the ice “talking” to us. Pressure stresses give a cracking sound; however, with 12 inches of ice there is no chance of danger. Although we were fishing during the published best biting period, the high-pressure cell put a damper on fish biting.

My Eskimo Quick Fish 4 proved to be the perfect shelter, keeping the four of us warm even if the fish weren’t that cooperative. I had brought along my portable charcoal grill and the roasted hotdogs were a gourmet delight. Robb and his two boys had a great afternoon despite the lack of cooperating fish. We did pick up a good tip from someone who helped us set up the pop-up. The Eskimo, like many pop-ups, uses an anchoring system that requires you to screw in the anchor. Using a battery-powered drill with a cement drill bit made fast work of the anchoring.

A young girl was so excited with the strike she had on a Swedish Pimple dressed with a salmon egg that she pulled her line up too fast. I didn’t see any other anglers getting any bites. My son-in-law has had good luck in the past jigging the Pimple for lake trout. My brother out west jigs with a beaded wooly bugger for rainbows. Some say the wooly bugger was designed to imitate the hellgrammite. Others claim it doesn’t imitate anything in particular, but it is an incredibly effective fly in fresh and salt water.

Our next ice fishing opportunity with be either Turtletown or Turkey. My UPS delivery man has been catching 1-pound black crappies at Turtletown. Crappies have a delicate sweet flesh and make for great eating.

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With spring a month and a half away, spring signs are abound in my office. First to arrive were Cabela’s fishing, fly fishing and saltwater fishing catalogs. Next to arrive was Cabela’s spring turkey catalog. Not to be outdone, Fish and Game announced that moose lottery applications were now being accepted.

Last year more than 13,400 entered the lottery for the chance to win one of 275 permits. Another 1,200 people continued to accrue bonus points because they submitted an application for a point only. Hunters from 18 states won permits. The overall odds of being selected in last year’s lottery were 1 in 36 for New Hampshire residents and 1 in 120 for nonresidents. About 85 percent of the permits go to New Hampshire residents; the number of permits available to nonresidents is capped, based on the prior year’s sales of nonresident hunting licenses.

Each applicant can enter the moose hunt lottery once a year. A bonus points system improves the chances for unsuccessful applicants who apply each year. For example, last year resident applicants who had a total of nine points had a 1-in-17 chance of being drawn. A nonresident with nine points had a 1-in-58 chance.

New Hampshire’s nine-day moose hunt stars the third Saturday in October. This year’s hunt runs Oct. 19-27.

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In those parts of the Atlantic Flyway that include Delaware, Maryland, New Jersey, New York, North Carolina, Pennsylvania, Virginia and Vermont, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service has issued a special management action referred to as a “Conservation Order” that was adopted by the Vermont Fish and Wildlife Board. As a result, there will be a statewide spring snow goose season in Vermont from March 11-April 26, with a daily limit of 15 snow geese and no possession limit.

The populations of snow geese, blue geese and Ross’s geese in North America, collectively referred to as “light geese,” have grown to record levels over the past three decades. The population of snow geese has grown from approximately 50,000 in the mid-1960s to 1 million today. This has resulted in damage to agricultural crops and marsh staging and wintering areas from Quebec to North Carolina. The Canadian nesting areas have been overrun with light geese at the expense of Canada geese.

Many exotic methods have been employed to reduce light geese numbers, including destroying the eggs of nesting light geese, to no avail. During the spring migration, snow geese typically fly through the Champlain Valley in late March and early April en route to the spring staging areas along the St. Lawrence River Valley. This gives you the opportunity to hunt in either upstate New York or Vermont. Last year, about 100 snow geese were taken by Vermont hunters. To get more information on the spring hunt possibilities, contact New York Department of Environmental Conservation or Vermont Fish and Wildlife.

(Bob Washburn can be reached at hunterscorner@aol.com.)

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