February fishing on the thin ice of a new world

February fishing on the thin ice of a new world

They’re also obsessed with finding the right spot, especially this year when safe ice is late and in some places never arrives.

Ed Duane, a high school teacher from Marshfield, He says he You must hit the road to find safe ice.

“The main story here is the lack of ice throughout New England, and that’s what makes me sad,” he says.

Duane and several other 41 anglers arrive at Partridgeville Pond before dawn for the Acadien Social Club’s first annual fishing derby held at the Templeton Fish and Game Club.

Mark Leger of Gardner unloads his fishing gear from his truck at dawn.Stan Grossfeld/Global Staff
Chris Ramo pulls a shovel at Partridgeville Pond.Stan Grossfeld/Global Staff
The fish gets a close-up before being released.Stan Grossfeld/Global Staff

Tournament organizer Jay Barlow says he expects a much larger turnout. Apparently the January tournament was canceled due to thin ice, which scared people away.

“People didn’t believe me when I said there was 7 inches of ice,” Barlow says, adding that he repeatedly measured every part of the pond to make sure the ice was safe.

Once the sun rises on this second weekend in February, there is no wind, just warm rays and temperatures in the mid-50s. The afternoon sun reflects off the ice, forming mud puddles.

Chris Ramo, of Fitchburg, says climate change is making his life difficult, both professionally and recreationally.

His winter job is to plow trails, and there has been little heavy snow this winter And a lot of dangerous ice.

“It’s definitely global warming,” he says. “We’re slowly killing ourselves. It’s bad, but it is what it is.”

He pulls a small pickaxe out of the ice hole and smiles. “Just have to enjoy it while you can.”

Nearby, families are having fun, and children are screaming with excitement. Many fish are caught on shiners, weighed and then gently released, their tails flapping goodbye as they disappear into the black water beneath the ice.

Ashlyn Barr, 3, joins Connor Wells and Duke (in background) at an ice fishing shelter.Stan Grossfeld/Global Staff
Ed Duane of Marshfield relaxes and watches the flags while ice fishing. “It’s like you’re catching fish while you’re fishing,” says Duane, who caught the biggest bass of the day.Stan Grossfeld/Global Staff
For lunch, sausages are grilled over ice.Stan Grossfeld/Global Staff

It’s an eight-hour party without hearing a single cell phone ring or child looking at a computer screen.

Elise Sabolewski, 9, of Winchendon, had no problem with the arrest and release rules.

“Catch some bass. Then let them go and let them grow,” she says. “It was a great feeling.”

But her father, Eric, is concerned that the sport requires life support.

“It’s my passion, and my whole family has done it my whole life,” he says. “It’s like a dying art, and it’s not part of the season anymore.”

Mass Wildlife strongly advises caution for anyone embarking on ice fishing.

“Four inches of newly formed clear ice may support a single person on foot, while a foot or more of older, partially melted ice may not,” according to its website.

Even Maine has seen a number of ice fishing derby cancellations — and two deaths so far this year. Earlier this month, an 88-year-old grandfather died when his all-terrain vehicle broke through the ice while returning from ice fishing with his son and two grandchildren on Spring River Lake, according to the Associated Press. On January 26, the town manager of Carmel, Maine, died after rescuing his 4-year-old son when they broke through the ice on Lake Etna. The Associated Press reported.

But with some care The Templeton Fishing Tournament still has its rewards – including $100 prizes for the biggest bass, pickerel and crappie. Plus major bragging rights.

Duane, who caught the biggest bass of the day, is thrilled. He and his comrades won four of the nine medals. For him, this is heaven.

“It’s like you’re catching fish while you’re fishing,” he says.

“I love him.”

Sage Nicholson, 5, of Attleboro, transfers the crappie she caught into a bucket of water to be weighed.Stan Grossfeld/Global Staff

Stan Grossfeld can be reached at stanley.grossfeld@globe.com.

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