Ice Fishing on Lake Towhee, Part I

Today begins prep week for my first fishing trip of 2011. I’ll be drilling holes this weekend through 6″-8″ of ice on Lake Towhee in Bucks County, PA, a 549 acre county park a few miles north of Nockamixon. Aside from buying a new license, I’m pretty much set thanks to the slow accumulation of gear over the past few years. I and a number of friends have been going to Laconia, New Hampshire for a long weekend every February. We stay in a house on Lake Winnisquam and spend nearly ever daylight hour dropping jigs through holes in 18″ thick ice while the wives sip Merlot and entertain the kids inside. We haven’t had much luck the past few years but we’re hoping to get some practice locally before this year’s big trip over Presidents’ Day weekend. Some of the necessary items I’ll be packing in my bag:

You can probably see from the picture there are additionally some boots and multiple sets of gloves and hats. I can’t stress enough how important it will be to stay warm and dry in order to have a good time. When you are out on the ice for four hours, its going to feel like its just you and the wind. It is a cliche for a reason — layers, layers, layers. Unless you have the $300+ to put out for a proper extreme weather system, you’re going to want to think about an outfit like this:

  • serious long johns
  • t-shirt
  • long sleeve shirt
  • flannel shirt
  • wool sweater
  • flannel jacket w/ sherpa lining
  • heavy work jacket (think Carhart)
  • rugged gloves to use while fishing
  • gloves for the ride home (because the fishing gloves will be wet and covered in scales)
  • long john bottom
  • corduroy pants
  • snow bib overalls
  • 1 pair cotton socks, 1 pair wool
  • Boots that are waterproof and good to -10 F
  • hat that will cover your head
  • hat/mask system that will cover your entire head and face

Ice Fishing Tackle As far as tackle goes, anything that’s top-water or involves dragging a lure across a horizontal surface, like an ice-free lake, is out. Since all you’ve got is a hole in the ice, you’re going to be doing a lot of jigging. You’ll either settle on a point in the water column where you may leave something rest, or you’re going to be dropping and retrieving your tackle vertically. I’ve got the following in my ice fishing specific tackle box:

This should be enough for me to fish either in 8′ deep Lake Towhee for crappies and gills, or for serious lake trout and bass in 60′ deep Winnisquamin in February. Back in mid-December, the wife and I were driving around Bucks county. We took a detour from our errands and had a look at Nockamixon. I was interested in seeing what the ice situation was like, but found there to be very little. A sign to Lake Towhee caught my eye, which I had never heard of before, so we took a detour from our detour and had a look at the park, which is when I got to snap a few pics of the wintery looking scene. Lake Towhee By mid-December, this season was shaping up to be adequate to produce ice at these latitudes. In this part of the country, it can really go either way. But as of the date I took the photo, there seemed to be a fair amount of ice already on the lake. In fact, I saw a family with a couple of kids ice skating down on the southern end. Our winter has continued to be cold and the reports I am getting are 6″ to 8″ of ice in the center, which means we should be good to go — especially since its not supposed to go above freezing in the region for the rest of the week. I tend to be overly cautious and have a fair knowledge of ice, so if your headed out for hard water action, I’d suggest doing research before an outing in order to obtain as much possible info about ice thickness and safety. This guide may help you as well. I’m not sure what to expect this weekend, but I’m hopping for best, especially since I came across a local forum contributor saying good things about the ice action on 12/30:

Beautiful, no wind and sunny for most of the day, my son caught a nice 10″ LMB, some panfish, others caught crappies, assorted panfish. Using minnows but wax worms worked also. Nice bunch of people on the lake today- alot of fun.

Check this site early next week for what I hope will be a number of good pictures of fish and a great story posted here. Lake Towhee Map

Part II will look a little something like this:

Chain Pickerel, Lake Towhee

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