SOMERS, N.Y. – Many people around Somers and North Salem are happy to be indoors in this frigid weather, but for ice-fishermen, the local reservoirs are a winter wonderland.
Igor Beydik and his friend, Roman Lev, left their home in Staten Island at 4:30 a.m. Saturday to drive to Somers' Muscoot Reservoir.
Both men said they have been ice-fishing since they were old enough to handle a fishing line.
“I don’t come here to catch fish,” said Lev, “I come to catch the fun. If you want a fish you can go to the store.”
Beydik, who came to the U.S. from Belarus 25 years ago, said he goes ice fishing for the sport.
“And for the fresh air," he said. "It kills the germs. I usually come early and stay until dusk.”
About 50 fishermen were scattered over the frozen reservoir Saturday. Many had special ice-fishing chairs, with compartments for tools and apparatus.
Lev had caught six or seven sun fish before noon. He hoped to catch some pike or crappie as well.
“This is my therapy,” he said. “Cheaper and more effective than seeing a doctor.”
John Miller, owner of the Katonah Bait Shop and a graduate of North Salem High School, said he has many Russian customers who drive up from the city.
“They telephone me ahead of time to make sure the ice is frozen. Ideally, you should have 3.5 inches of ice for safety’s sake," he said. “Fishing on black ice [very thin] is the most risky but it’s the most fun, because you can see the fish taking the bait. You can see them coming.”
Ice-fishing is different from normal fishing in a boat, Miller said. He said being on a boat feels more isolated.
"Most often, there’s a large group of people on the ice and there’s a lot of camaraderie," he said. "Some people bring coolers and some even cook on the ice.”