Ice fishing off to good start - WCAX.COM Local Vermont News, Weather and Sports-

Ice fishing off to good start

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It's a multi-million dollars business for the state, and Sunday, fishermen scattered Shelburne Pond waiting for a catch.

"I feel like the cold weather kind of helps with the fish, they bite a little better, you know in storms and stuff like that," said ice fisherman Kyle Doerty. "The main fish that people come here to catch and keep are perch, perch and crappie."

"We didn't catch what we were after but we did catch a few. Heading to the next spot, hopefully we're gonna do a little better," said fisherman Jason Raymond.

And for some in the business, many high demand products are already selling out. "It's great that you don't carry a lot of inventory at the end of the year, but we still have a good month-and-a-half to sell product and right now we're just out. All the good stuff is gone," said J.P. Raatikainen, the owner of Nills Master USA, a wholesale fishing gear business.

And with predictions of a booming season, J.P. says now is a great time to be a fishermen. "If we get a nice rain storm that clears the snow from the ice, we're gonna have some solid ice until the end of March. No question about it, it's gonna be a good season," he said.

With everything from the cost of bait to higher end items, this ice fishing season could prove beneficial to Vermont's economy. But as more people head out on the ice, safety is also a concern.

"Shelburne Pond -- there's 14 inches -- you'll be safe out here. Don't drive the trucks out. Definitely don't be the first guy to drive a car out. There's a lot of cracks on the ice -- pressure cracks," Doerty said.

And avoid ice that may be near flowing water. So for anyone out on the ice this season... "Don't be a statistic, just enjoy the fishing,"  Raatikainen said.

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