The Herald Bulletin

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Sports

February 26, 2014

Rick Bramwell: Ice fishing season could last longer than ever

Several years ago, Allen Muey was driving along I-69 when my cell phone rang. It was the fifth day of March.

"You won't believe this, but I just passed two idiots ice fishing an interstate pond," he said.

It turned out that those two late-season malcontents were Bob May and I. Looking at the forecast, we believe the ice will be safe enough for us to set a new record. Keep an eye out, Muey.

The pond we were fishing has changed. It used to be tough to catch a fish through the ice, but when you did it was a big bluegill. The tough bite was due to very clear water. Now a once small crappie population is about to take over, and with snow covering the ice the fish aren't as skittish.

The Farmer's Almanac faithful are bracing themselves for a big snow storm predicted for the second week in March.

It looks as though the sandhill crane migration may be stacked up in the White River bottoms north of Martinsville. Two weeks ago, I saw a flock of about 200 in a cornfield there. Very soon they will be headed for their mating grounds at Jasper-Pulaski Fish and Wildlife Area.

A good fatality of our harsh winter is already showing up. A pit owner asked me to identify dead fish he found after heavy rains thawed part of the snow-covered ice.

The small fish were all gizzard shad. They are the first to die when oxygen levels fall. Expect Geist Reservoir to have a significant shad kill.

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Garry Cloud has been using the coyote population's hunger pangs against it. He calls it "The Hunger Games." Cloud provides a service for a large hog operation in Owen County by picking up dead hogs and using them for bait.

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