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January 31, 2013

Winter warmup melts anglers', snowmobilers' hopes

Temperature fluctuations dash winter enthusiasts' hopes

As the mercury climbed, ice fishermen and snowmobile enthusiasts’ hopes sank.

Another mild winter has meant tough sledding for snowmobiling and ice fishing enthusiasts throughout the region.

Temperatures were expected to hit 60 degrees early this morning, which has winter buffs worried about another seasonal bust.

“It just hasn’t been good,” said Shaun Croteau, vice president of the Pelham Border Riders snowmobiling club. “The trails are rough and rocky, so we need a good foot of snow to really be able to use it.”

So far, that hasn’t happened in Southern New Hampshire.

The total snowfall in Concord to date is just 23 inches, according to Tom Hawley of the National Weather Service. In an average year, snow totals are 34 inches by the end of January, he said.

The weather also has John DeYoung of the Country Pond Fish and Game Club in Newton concerned. The club is hosting its annual ice fishing derby Sunday.

DeYoung will be measuring the ice every day until then.

“It needs to be about 8 inches,” DeYoung said. “As of (yesterday), it was 10 inches and that is with an inch or two of snow on top of it.”

Despite the midweek warm-up, temperatures are supposed to drop tomorrow. DeYoung said he’s optimistic about holding the derby.

He just returned from an ice-fishing trip up north. Even in Pittsburg, the state’s northeastern-most town, some lakes weren’t safe for fishing, he said.

“There hasn’t been a lot of ice fishing all winter,” DeYoung said. “But even last week, there weren’t many ice fishermen around because it was so cold.”

But Capt. John Wimsatt of the New Hampshire Fish and Game Department said most small ponds around the state are fishable.

“The recent cold weather has made most of the small ponds in the state fishable and safe for on foot,” he said. “Some of the larger bodies of water are only fairly iced over.”

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