I received a telephone call from Tom Phillips, of Pepacton Bait & Tackle, located at 43005 Route 28, Arkville. Tom was happy to report that this coming Saturday, January 17, his store is sponsoring the 3rd annual Ice Fishing Derby.  The Derby will be held at Big Pond, which has lots of ice and lots of big trout! In recent years, the NYS Department of Environmental Conservation has stocked Big Pond with hundreds of large brown trout in sizes 16 to 21 inches. These were traditionally surplus breeders used at the Catskill hatchery in DeBruce.            To participate in this exciting event, stop by Pepacton Bait & Tackle  to sign up. Entry fee is just $10 per person; there will be three cash prizes awarded for the largest trout taken.

            On Derby Day, January 17.  Tom will be open at 4:30 am. Pepacton Bait & Tackle has a good supply of ice fishing equipment for sale. Whether you’re just starting out, or need to buy some new equipment, Tom can outfit you with supplies ranging from hand augurs to power augurs, tip-ups, ladles, jigging rods, jigs, lines, skimmers, thermoses, buckets and bait - and anything else you might need. For additional information, call Tom at 845-750-5061.

            Big Pond is a 51-acre coldwater lake with 1.5 miles of shoreline, and is just over ½ mile (0.55 mile) in length. It has a maximum depth of 60 feet, and is located along the Barkaboom Road in the Town of Andes. The NYS DEC website states that some very impressive catches have been recorded coming out of Big Pond. It is stocked annually with approximately 250-1000 brown trout 8-21" in length (most years it receives roughly 200-250 brown trout of 8-9" in length) and 250 rainbow trout also 8-9" in length.                                                                                                                       Fishing regulations on Big Pond for 2015 allow trout to be taken from the pond all year-round, ice fishing permitted. Anglers may take three trout per day with a minimum size limit of 12 inches. General ice fishing regulations state that wherever ice fishing is permitted, not more than three hand lines and five tip-ups may be used, except as noted in Border Waters, Lake Champlain, and Special Regulations by County. No tip-up may be used that has more than five lures or baits or a combination of both, or has more than 15 hook points in any combination of single, double or treble hooks. The ice fisher must be present whenever the lines of the rods or tip-ups are in the water; and all tip-ups must be clearly marked with the name and address of the operator.                                                                                                 It is common for Environmental Conservation Offers to stop by lakes and ponds that allow ice fishing to check ice fishermen and their catches. In fact, ECOs check ice fishers perhaps more than any other type of fishers, as they are usually very visible on the ice and tend to fish in groups – so be sure you have purchased your new fishing license for 2015!

            Be sure that the ice is thick enough before embarking on your trip (a minimum of three to four inches of solid ice is usually safe for anglers on foot) dress warmly, bring along a thermos of hot cocoa and have fun!