Last weekend was just spectacular.

With temperatures in the upper 50s and lower 60s, everyone seemed to be out and about. I spent some time pedaling my bicycle down the road and around town. It was wonderful to pull on a pair of shorts and be out in the sun.

As I traveled along Route 23, I saw people passing with skis on their cars. I was reminded of spring skiing many years ago, when a group of us tore up the slopes at Scotch Valley in shorts and T-shirts and got badly sunburned.

A couple of my friends spent the day ice fishing on Canadarago Lake. For those who like to drill holes in the frozen lakes and fish, there's still plenty of ice.

Brian and Dick headed to Schuyler Lake early Saturday morning. They parked at the boat launch and easily got on the ice just to the right of the ramp. Well, easily is a relative term. The ice was so slippery and smooth they had to use cleats on their boots just to get around.

When they arrived, there were quite a few other fishermen already in the bay just south of the launch. Rather than crowd in with everyone else, they pulled their sleds straight out from the parking area and drilled through more than a foot of ice. With their fish finders, they were able to see deep into the cold water below.

Finding fish was rather difficult. In fact, they moved several times before finding any fish. At one spot, there were hundreds of small fish schooling through the area. Someone referred to them as spotted bellies. Oddly enough, there were no bigger fish around feeding on the school of bait-sized fish.

Finally on the fifth move, they found some fish. Even though the weather was sweatshirt warm on the ice, they had to sit in their portable shanties with the tops up in order to see the screens on their fish finders in the bright sunshine.

Brian caught a couple of 12-to-13-inch perch. As he'd pull them up through the hole, he would just drop them on the ice and continue fishing. They'd flop around a couple of times right after exiting the icy water. As he put his line back down into the depths, he watched his second fish of the day flip and flop just before disappearing back under the ice through the camera hole. Oh well. That did make getting a nice meal of perch fillets just a little more difficult.

As the day lingered, they moved several more times. The group of fishermen in the bay had dispersed and were scattered around the area, all searching for fish.

The cold winter packed plenty of ice on the lake. Usually at this time, the ice is getting thin along the shore and you have to use a plank to get out onto the lake. At least it wasn't like those guys on Lake Erie who had to be rescued with helicopters because the ice broke loose, leaving them drifting on the lake. Fishing will continue on Canadarago Lake for at least another couple of weeks.

Brian and Dick used spikes for bait. For those unfamiliar with the term, spikes are fly larva. They usually work quite well, but the fish were hitting short and just nibbling the ends of the bait off the hooks, usually without getting caught.

It still was a great day on the ice. They caught several nice fish as large flocks of geese flew steadily over head on their ever-northward trek.

Speaking of geese again, here's a question for you. Why is one leg of the geese's v-shaped formation always longer than the other?

The answer will be in next week's column.

Rick Brockway writes a weekly outdoors column for The Daily Star. E-mail him at

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