When Ice Force pro-staffer Dave Lefebre planned an ice fishing media even for mid-January in Northwest Pennsylvania, he expected the odds to be in his favor for safe ice on area lakes. However, with the strange freeze-thaw cycle this winter, the event seemed to be in peril up to about a week before...then the big Polar Front blew across PA and sealed the deal.
While recognized for his tournament bass fishing skills, this was Lefebre's opportunity to show his extensive fishing skills and to demonstrate new ice fishing equipment from Rapala, VMC, Trigger X, MarCum, Otter and Strikemaster. Attending the Erie Ice Camp were outdoor writers Jeff Samsel (Atlanta, GA), Steve Chaconas (Alexandria, VA), Jon Storm (Buffalo, NY) and myself. Although referred to as a camp, we were very appreciative that Dave didn't have us sleeping in tents!
I was only able to attend two of the three days. During my first day, we fished Presque Isle Bay for crappies, bluegills and perch - filling a five gallon bucket with panfish. However, returning the next day to Misery Bay, we found the water level in PIB had come up overnight due to a strong Northeast wind on the main lake (which was still open). Ice cover had separated from the shoreline, so Dave's Plan B kicked in. We head inland to Lake Pleasant - a small natural lake with panfish and trout. Although I had never fished Pleasant, I was very impressed by the size of the yellow perch, rainbow trout and brook trout which the crew caught on a variety of ice jigs with plastic trailers while watching strikes happen on MarCum sonar and underwater camera.