By Bruce Stanton

NEAR MOUNTAIN REST, South Carolina - I'm a Southern guy, and down here we deal with ice differently than people from Lindy Land.

It's a novelty. It's strange. And it's intriguing. We just don't have to deal with it when fishing like y'all do  up North. We saw "Grumpy Old Men." That's our knowledge of ice fishing.

Until this week's fishing trip to the Chauga and Chattooga rivers in northwest South Carolina, that is. Outdoor writer friend Jeff Samsel and I fished areas that were dealt single-digit low temperatures mixed with snow and sleet in the days prior to our arrival.

When we arrived at the Chauga, the entire banks of both sides of the river were covered with thick sheets of ice 2-3 feet wide (thick sheets being a half inch to an inch). This was not what we call "skim" ice. To get in the river to wade (and yes, we wear waders), we had to bust, knee, kick and push ice out of the way.

Not only did we have to bust ice, we actually had to avoid ice floes as they came down the river continuously. With 12-degree surface temperatures, our rods, reels, line and lures were freezing every minute. I busted one rod above the handle. Two of our reels froze up and wouldn't work. My net weighed 20 pounds from gathering ice.

The combination of standing in the icy river along with the chilling cold almost made the morning unbearable.


Fortunately, we were smart enough to bring Lindy tackle along. We knew that fish liked Lindy lures up North, so why wouldn't Southern fish eat them amongst the ice down here? They did.

Jeff and I were using Lindy's Watsit Ice Jig in black and Coach Dog colors. We also used 1/8th ounce Fuzz-E Grubs in Silver Flash and Crawfish Orange. We figured out that the trout were holding just under the edge of the ice and targeted the side of the ice with precision casts. We also simply cast on the ice and drug the lures into the water. The browns and rainbows hated that. We caught several of each species under and around the ice.

Just like up North, the action and appearance of these Lindy jigs is amazing in the water. These were the coldest conditions of the year, and the Watsits and Fuzz-E's made this a trip to remember.

After five hours of fishing, it was finally time to go. We realized that we had to "bust out" to get out of the river. We had covered quite a bit of river and struggled to get out just as we had to do to get in. All in all, a fun day of ice fishing, Southern Style!