• Night and day at the Bomoseen D-d-derby
    By Dennis Jensen
    STAFF WRITER | February 24,2013
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    PHOTO BY DENNIS JENSEN

    Matt Thomas of Castleton holds up a pretty brown trout he caught on the first day of the Lake Bomoseen Ice Fishing Derby, held last weekend. His wife Kim and son Conor, 21 months, tagged along for the day on the ice.
    CASTLETON — The wind is driving out of the north, a strong, brutal wind that makes the 9-degree morning feel something like 25 below.

    Matt spends about 20 minutes in the portable shanty while Bob and I keep a close watch a half-dozen tip-ups and try to jig for perch. I say try to jig because weather conditions like this really test your gear.

    The water in the holes, drilled just after dawn, begin to ice up almost immediately. And while it starts as only a thin layer, it catches your line after a while. You have to constantly use the skimmer. Even worse, the 4-pound test line ices up at the place where the jig hits the water and in only a short while you’ve got a small anchor of ice 8 inches below the rod tip. If a fish happens to hit and you begin to reel in, there is the distinct possibility that all of that ice will clog the last eye on the rod, preventing you from reeling in a fish at the other line.

    Matt steps out of the shanty, folds it back and, moments later a gust of wind pushes the shanty across the ice. Both my son and I race after it, but Matt is quicker. He grabs the rope and pulls it back to the pickup truck, securing the rope to the trailer ball on the back bumper.

    Ice has gathered on my beard, as well as the gray hair on the face of my pal, Bob Walker. It is miserably cold. To make matters worse, the fish are not biting.

    Is this fun, or what?

    We are now into the second day of the 35th Annual Lake Bomoseen Ice Fishing Derby and you couldn’t imagine two days so vastly different. On the first morning, we set out early to pick up a couple of dozen shiners at Tom’s Bait in Castleton. As I made my way along Route 30, as it runs right up along the lake, I was again in awe at the scene.

    It is still very dark but up and down the lake, a near city of lights comes into view: Pickup trucks going this way and that, headed for the favored honey hole, 4-wheelers, some pulling sleds piled up with gear, the glow coming from shanties — the picture is almost surreal as an army of sturdy fishermen take part in a custom that is cut from the real fabric of old Vermont. We hit the ice just after 6 a.m. on the first day.

    On this day, Jim Lynch, Bob and I set out for a place on the eastern shore of the lake. It’s a gorgeous morning, with only a little wind and temperatures in the mid-20s — just about perfect for one of the oldest fishing derbies in New England.

    I am generally reluctant to drive my truck on the ice but with well over a foot of ice on the big lake, it was an easy decision. Just before we go from ground to ice, Jim jumps out of his truck, comes up to mine and tells us: “Roll the windows down.”

    Jim’s like that, always thinking ahead and I make a mental note to remember that the next time we drive across the frozen lake.

    The windows, of course, should remain down while driving across the ice, in the event that the truck goes through. That’s a heck of a thought, isn’t it?

    Getting out of a vehicle sinking in frigid waters will be a lot easier with the windows down then if you struggled to get them rolled down after sinking into the depths of the lake.

    Anyway, we get to our fishing spot and at once begin to drill holes. Bob has brought along a half-dozen tip-ups and it’s a good thing he did; the jigging action was very slow and, by the end of the day, we caught about 80 percent of our fish with tip-ups and medium shiners.

    We fished until almost dark and headed home, tired but happy — despite knowing that the next day’s forecast was grim.

    Jim wisely opted out of fishing the next day and Matt, Bob and I learned why — in extreme weather, ice fishing is raw and nasty. We toughed it out — with just two perch this day for our efforts — and shut it all down by 11 a.m.

    Two hours after we got back, I swear I was still cold, still feeling the effects of a bitter morning of low temperatures combined with high winds. But later that day, it all got better after we had a dinner of fresh perch and a fat brown trout.

    Results of the 35th Annual Lake Bomoseen Ice Fishing Derby:

    Northern Pike: 1st. Matt Muratorri, Castleton, 12.97 pounds; 2nd. Jay Muratorri, Castleton, 12.87; 3rd. Matt Muratorri, Castleton, 12.47; 4th. Seth Durfee, Fair Haven, 11.03

    Bass: 1st. Sean Hesse, Rutland, 6.3 pounds; 2nd. Jake Tyminski, Wallingford, 5.85; 3rd. Ron Crawford, Arlington, 5.77; 4th. Chad Fleury, Bomoseen, 5.22.

    Trout: 1st. Arnie Sarri, Cold Springs, N.Y., 2.44 pounds; 2nd. Andy Stone, Pawlet, 2.29; 3rd. Ron Beayon, Mt. Tabor, 1.92; 4th. Jacob Stoodley, Castleton, 1.91.

    Perch: 1st. Ron Beayon, Mt. Tabor, 1.14 pounds; 2nd. Kevin Sweet, West Rutland, 1.11; 3rd. Jethro Doran, West Haven, 1.08; 4th. Robin Roberts, 1.06. In all, 462 anglers participated in the derby, according to derby spokesman Stan Patch.

    d.jensen62@yahoo.com
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