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Finally… a Saturday off, my friends are free, and the weather looks great. It's time to head out onto the ice for some ice fishing! We’ve got our ice augers, tip-ups, bait, and we are ready to go.

And, we're off!

We decided to head to Franklin Falls, just outside of Wilmington, where I’ve always fished in the summer, but this was my first time ice fishing there. I measured the ice, and it was about a foot thick, which is more than safe enough for this adventure. 

Ready to head out onto the ice

Now, I’m not an ice fishing expert by any means, so I let the boys set their tip-ups up before setting mine. Of course they let me pull the sled out with all the bait and tip-ups in it, but I wasn’t going as far out as some of them.

If a snowmobile and/or snowshoes were required to get to the hole, you could count me out. I watched as my boyfriend drilled his holes, baited the hooks, and set the tip-ups so I would know what to do next. 

Tip ups are set!

I finally picked the perfect spot to set up the one tip-up that I wanted to set. I let him drill the hole with his auger because that thing is heavy I’ve learned from past experiences.

I picked a sucker out of the bucket and baited my hook. I watched him as he swam down into the water, and then hooked my flag thinking that this was definitely the perfect spot to catch a big one. Certainly that flag would be going up soon. Right?

Baiting my hook for the best placed tip up

I went back to shore and hung out with my friends, patiently waiting for the flags to pop up. We had packed some chili and chocolate chip cookies. Okay, so I may have had three cookies and a bowl of chili, but what else am I going to do as I’m waiting for fish to bite?

Finally, a flag went up, and I heard the boys yell “fish on.” They caught a northern pike and they were all excited. Still no bites on my perfectly placed tip-up, sigh. The boys were the only ones catching fish. A pike, walleye, another walleye, another pike. I couldn’t believe it. I continued to help check the bait in our holes, clear the snow away, remove the ice build up out of the holes — but still no fish on my line. 

Chili time!

As we finally started to pack up our gear, I'll admit I felt extremely disappointed that I didn’t catch any fish, I mean, it was the perfect spot! But the day was fun! It was cool to see some big fish caught, and I got to enjoy the outdoors all day, so I can’t complain there. 

In celebration of our catch, or in my case lack thereof, we headed to Pourman’s Tap House in Wilmington. It was just a short twenty-minute drive, and we were rewarded with a pint of Tupper Lake’s Raquette River Brewing Mango Wheat (my favorite) and a flatbread pizza. It was the perfect combination to warm me up after a day on the ice.

Victory...or not!

It was a great day of fishing with friends. Want to plan your own ice fishing trip to the Whiteface Region? Book a room and fish on! We have awesome fly fishing here too, if the ice isn’t your style! 

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Brooke O'Neil

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