It appears the recent cold snap froze more than the water pipes in my home ... area lakes are buttoned up as well, like a fine Italian dress shirt.
The lower end of Lake Champlain and nearly all its bays are now fishable, as is the majority of Lake George. The smaller lakes are well frozen, though some are difficult to navigate because of snow and slush. Popular fishing destinations like Lake Eaton, Long Lake, Raquette Lake, Indian Lake, Blue Mountain Lake, Eagle Lake, Paradox Lake, Brant Lake and Schroon Lake also hold fishable ice.
As a result, a handful of ice fishing tournaments loom in the region, including those in Tupper Lake, Saranac Lake, Schroon Lake, Hague and Pilot Knob.
The Northern Challenge - Feb. 5
TUPPER LAKE - Hundreds of fisherman from throughout the Northeast are expected to converge on Lake Simond this weekend for the Northern Challenge Ice Fishing Derby sponsored by the Tupper Lake Rod and Gun Club and the Adirondack Regional Federal Credit Union.
The only thing larger than the turnout for this great derby are the prizes, which range from two new four-wheelers to hourly cash awards of $800 for fish that are caught.
Entrants are encouraged to pre-register on Friday, Feb. 4 from noon until 10 p.m. at the Tupper Lake Rod and Gun Club located on Lake Simond Road, or anglers can register the day of the derby starting at 3 a.m. through the end of the day.
Fishing will take place during this catch-and-release tournament from 7 a.m. until 3 p.m. and prizes will be dolled out at 4 p.m.
For more information, contact organizer Dave McMahon at 359-9715.
The Lake George Chinga-Classic: Feb. 19-20
PILOT KNOB - The popular Lake George Chinga-Classic, now in its 10th season, will have a new twist this year. Organizers YMCA Camp Chingachgook and FISH307.com have this year partnered with the Northeast Ice Fishing Tour to add a competitive panfish derby to the event.
As in the past, prizes will still be awarded to children and adults for heaviest fish in the categories of perch, pike, lake trout and salmon during the two-day tourney, but the event has been expanded to include the first annual panfish tournament.
This is a total weight tournament open to those entering a total of 10 panfish, which can include any combination of perch, bluegill, sunfish or crappie.
The contest is open from 7 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday and Sunday with an awards ceremony to immediately follow. The Chinga-Classic is headquartered at the camp at the end of Pilot Knob Road off State Route 9L.
The entry fee is $25 per person per day, or $30 for both days. Kids under 12 may register for $6 per day, or $10 for both days. The fee will be $35 with the panfish tourney included.
For more information, visit FISH307.com or northeasticefishing.com
Northern Lake George Ice Fishing Tournament: Feb. 26-27
HAGUE - One of the region's longest-running hardwater contests - the annual Northern Lake George Ice Fishing Tournament - will be held this year Feb. 26-27.
The event, now in its 52nd year, is sponsored by the Hague Fish & Game Club and chambers of commerce of Hague and Ticonderoga. The entry fee is again just $15 for the two-day event with kids under 16 and seniors over 65 fishing for free. Cash and prizes will be awarded to the top six in the categories of lake trout, salmon, perch and northern pike.
Organizer Steve Ramant said prizes include a Strikemaster gas auger, Perch a Clam Kenai ice-shelters, and Vexilar Cold-Snap parka and bib sets.
New this year will be a clinic offered to area youth and novice anglers by Strikemaster pro angler Shawn Hayes. The clinic will be offered Feb. 26 at 8 a.m. at the town beach in Hague, and equipment will be provided to the first 40 registrants.
For more information, call organizer Steve Ramant at 543-6542.
Schroon Lake Fishing Derby: March 5-6
SCHROON LAKE - The Schroon Lake derby has also grown into one of the region's largest with cash payouts in three categories and daily giveaways.
Fishing during this two-day event begins at daylight and ends at 4 p.m. Sunday. An awards ceremony will follow at the Schroon Lake Fish and Game Club.
Anglers can pre-register by mail or entry forms can be picked up at Flanagan's, Bobcat Sports or the fish and game club through March 4. Late entries can also be made at Flanagans March 4, or at the fish and game club either day of the tournament.
The cost for all anglers, including children, is $12 through Feb. 27 and $15 thereafter. Three cash prizes will be awarded in the categories of trout, salmon and northern pike as well as a cash prize for heaviest pickerel and perch. Door prizes will be drawn hourly both days.
Call Bunny Suprenant at 532-7685 for more information.
John Gereau is managing editor of Denton Publications and an avid outdoorsman. He may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org