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Were they come from miles around to sit in subfreezing temperatures on a frozen stretch of Lake Champlain. Here they spend days dangling their hooks through holes drilled in the ice. Then suddenly from the murky waters comes a monster from the deep. Is that it getting really big fish. Well big enough coming up on people near here were you. Hello
and welcome to people near here. It looks like a scene out of Doctor Zhivago doesn't it. But I can assure you it isn't. This is Lake Champlain or rather the southern end of Lake Champlain in the summer. This lake is an absolute haven for people who love water sports but in the winter much of the lake freezes solid like it is here. And then it becomes a haven for a heartier soul. People who come out here drill holes in the ice and then sit around them waiting to catch fish. They actually build little cities on the ice. There's one right there it's called a shanty town. We thought it be fun to bring you down here and introduce you to some of these
hardy souls. Come on. That's a town of Port Henry on The New York side that you see there in the background. We're about a quarter of the MIO out on the ice and we still have at least a quarter of a mile to go before we get to the shantytown. I tell you it's really eerie. First of all you can hear the ice shifting and cracking as you walk along it's kind of a sound I'm sure you'll hear it before the show is over but they assure me it is safe to take enough to walk and we get a whole little village out here the other thing is it is really really bright out here so I got to wear my dark glasses I hope you don't mind. We got about a quarter mile ago here almost there. OK here we are we're closing in on shanty town here. Winds dropped down a little bit now here is a perfect little shanty right here everybody inside right. This is Clarence Bevan's right. Yes you go in Clarence. Yes fine how are you today. Great House mission. Hey it's doing pretty good where we're getting a few here in that bucket there just look at these are smelt.
Now is that just this morning's catch. Yes since about 10:30 on I guess they've been hitting in fast and furious all at once and then they'll be slack time. Now the guys on this side look at this Fred you guys on this side they've got the big fish award I think there that's. Isn't that nice. He definitely skunk me on the size of the oil that I do. Now you've got four or four holes drilled in you guys going here right. Yes. How how because the ice the ice is about 14 inches thick that's glare ice. Nothing the solid ice. So when we hear this crack and boom and walking out here we should worry about that. No that's that when putting pressure on the ice as it comes down and it forces the ice down and crack it a little bit but it's nothing really to worry about was an external phenomenon not an interval of a writer. All right show me how you do that the sun is also warm and the top of the ice and the sixth banding the ice. OK a little it's a good thing. Yes. What do you do it using for bait. We use a chunk
of the fish we have to. I need to cut some bait so you know if you have a firsthand look. OK so you're going to use for bait the very fish you've been catching. Yes. Here's one he probably will still flop. Maybe a humanitarian gesture there we have to slice off. You want to chunk a bait about a quarter of an inch wide and not too awfully thick and it needs to be approximately two inches long. This one is going to be longer over you there comes one out of the hole. So smoke eat smelt. Yes they're cannibalistic fish. And I noticed that what you're doing there is. Are you going to use the outside air the shiny part with yes we are. That's very attractive in the water. Yes it is. The more action on the cork the more fish you will get.
Now listen if you guys you smell the carrot smell. What do you put on the very first book of the day. You usually freeze up a bait fish and bring it with you or if you're late coming on the ice usually somebody has one. I got it already so I hope you can usually buy or borrow from yours. You want what do you do in there where you swing in there because it makes the hook and the bait flop around. I'm going to bring this line up with it. I don't think there's anything on it like this. But I need to put new bait on air as you can see that bait is pretty well riddled. I only use one hook and I use it at the bottom of the attractor So that's really all just from fishing on it and they're shooting it. Yes you hook the bait through one time and then bring it to the second time.
That are back down and the trick is not to get tangled up here. Shouldn't how far down you take in that. And the depth of the water here is about 40 feet and I'm about 10 cranks off the bottom which brings me about 30 feet. OK are 10 feet from bottom. OK I used to be where the more bigger smelt are are you in a channel or anything here. This is called the the hole. It's kind of a deep spot if you move back in toward shore a little bit. It gets fairly. See now there's something down there after that freshly already excellent litter that you can then you know. Well thanks for having those in and I sure appreciate it. That's OK. Good luck and we'll check back with you later on I want to see those will go up to the top of those buckets OK I've had about get that full Yeah right away to
buy. Place looks deserted but the amazing thing is there are people in the outside these shanties. Yeah it's nice little that's I cannot look at this is that gorgeous. Nice simple plain look in here. Big fancy one here not much Tulum really just four walls a door No. All nice that's all you need. The boys it is it's slick out here. I see somebody's home over here let's go get over it. I hear something a little bit different. It's a nice shanty but it's a pulled up one folds up this way. That's why they call these clams the clams. Nice light weight you take a look see if anybody's home. Karlsson here working away. I was
fission and I look just like you. Right on cue there but I think now this is an unusual Shani Kelly that the shiny supportable. You tell the clam and it's a portable Shani so you can go pretty easy to any location it polls pretty easy and sets up in just a few minutes. Oh I see what you're sitting on is actually that like the the case for the thing right. So everything all the canvas folds up into that right. Well you know we were going to die and you're here goes with it. As I was just dragging this out your body so you got like an eight foot four by four box when you're all done right. This is a two man in there and I got you guys working here. Look at this here biting pretty consistent hard today. Now you got a little bit of weight going there or using double hooks. Oh you're okay. You guys are double headed still go Hawks. I'll fire down off the bottom are you
just a foot off the bottom today. Would you like to try it. And I I don't know I was not sure again. OK I've never done this or what. You feel great. Now this part I do this but I just hold it in hands and you'll feel them bite. Do I could just feel little a little different way. Then you just hand over hand up and so can you get something bigger than the snow. You can judge like drought here all I hear is that happen. Oh yeah it happens. I want to look at the weather. Just that it wasn't that good just to hit them you know in the you know surge of feel that you just pulled their egos or you that beginner's luck. I don't know I think I caught a wave was on I thought this now.
Well you know he's swimming around. I don't get it. Yeah yeah yeah. Well I mean it's all it's all beat no rain I think you're going down. Yeah that's great. Well there's dinner. Let's no more I don't know what you're going to eat. I cannot work very hard. I'm exhausted. Look what I've done to your out-of-door you're just toss up looks back down and I look forward to all the tell you everything you want to look at that it does shake her and she usually comes out it did. I can feel it shake it out you know. Rear the whole day on the ice. I like you. When
you need her you need the aid of probably 20 or 30 or so you know for a person depending on what you have with it I guess. How do you cook them. We are usually deep frying you know you put it like an egg batter and your regimen are way better than flour or something or Baghdad or bread crumbs. Yeah generally Broadcom there and then deep fry amor. Well that more health conscience you can probably you can bake them. Yeah I've tried that and it's not as good of course of me as in the grease for cleaning first. Yeah you just pop the head off and just run your thumb up your you kind of get that. I like your head off and I cut it up along the Belling understood. Intestines and stuff and just cook it up like that sounds great. How deep are you
here. I'm thinking it's about probably 35 40 feet here. I get the one stick on the bottom. Is that what you call that thing it's thick and just you know it's something you made there. Yeah actually by the one sticks on the bottom and then the other ones about 15 feet up. How do you know when they hit how do you tell her a tug. You can film a little bit or Usually you just can pull it up and you'll feel a mom that has a little extra weight it was going to pull it up there's nothing there and when there's something on they're going to feel a little bit of a difference. How long you spend out here today. It's about 3 o'clock so I had to drive back for your friend from Albany the Albany so you're an hour south of here then. Yeah actually about two hours. Oh nice fish look at the Rice Yeah. Workable if
this is a portable fishfinder Yeah what I do is tell me the def jams will also tell me how deep are you there. Well right now it's not working yet. I think that's going to fill up with WANT TO fact it may have got iced in the tube. Yeah but this right here will tell you the depth. This is a side finder so in addition to looking straight down there it's 135 feet with a guy knows that the guy in that shack you know how deep everything else he told me that was 52 feet and says you're in 35 feet right and you know he isn't and he doesn't have one of these. Well he may inside of me. Too many toys you guys got too many doors I think it's all fish this big one he needed already so you need to catch them so that in the spring I can catch the lake trout Yaz. OK so these these are fish right here. Those are fish that it's picking up. How big a fish. Ah doesn't really say it's possible that they could be walleye because these smaller dots down below.
Yeah that could be the smell because the size of this melts a smaller fish the shell would be closer to the bottom. Yeah. So we may have walleye or even lake trout down trying to feed on smelt but that was correct. Do you want to fish right off the bottom in these little dots maybe the smelt right off the bottom. The old timers know what's going on here. Well that's what the key is that they talk to people that are out here. Yeah so people really get into decorating their shanties and that's a great mural of the Adirondacks. Summertime in the Adirondacks a little bit of fly fishing going on there. This is a nice big shanty. See it slide around here it is really slick The sun has come out. The ice is melting on the top a little bit so it's got to be really careful repeats and here you have Pete. Yeah. Oh here he is. Oh yeah. Boy this is nice look at this very very nice. I mean this is a luxurious. Yeah this is a format for him for me and yeah I see for me you sit here and you got to go and you go this way and do that all day long. Yeah yeah. For
people the pressure comfortably on a nice little propane here and it's very very nice. You built this didn't you. Yes. What's the secret to building a good 18 YEARS OR WHAT. Well knowing what you want and if you finish before you have an idea of what you need out here so what are the things you've got to have you're going to have a sturdy enough to withstand winds and light enough so you can move it easily which I put tough ones on the runners which makes it move so beautiful it has to be heavy it up because the winds can blow these things around I mean blowing across the lake. Certainly we have to anchor him down there Hey Gary this is a good acreage in the ice. Really can you take this essential step. Sure instead of that horror. OK watch your step here it is 1:00 a.m. here. Yes steak is frozen in the ice with a piece of wire.
This stick here is legal. Did you did you drive. Well yes there was cross with us by the way our Yeah but this way it was a way or two in honor of the ice. Oh I see you do this if you get out here and you have raised up a little why is that so you can take rain or something out there was water out here and it was freezing up above the runner so I raised it I get it you don't you don't want to get your Sheenie frozen into the ice. Well a little bit you know too much and you tell you I'm going to know when the ice breaks up. You want to be able to get this thing out of here. Yes. Yeah and that is that anchored only around two opposite corners. I see it that way and that way it won't swing in the wind. Now how do you draw. Well I have markers in my toe behind I know you know how to do that. But certainly this is your top line here. Let's look at this board corporator go here we went around the other side looking at this what is this. This is the fisherman back and forth I'm sure. Oh I see everybody gets in here where they store their gear and air and we go for a bumpy ride. That's great.
OK where's the arguer here or there. Show us how to do it here. Well anyhow you have the cover off of it which is going to go right here. Why sure it's going to get a little noisy so we'll just shut up and watch. And a good season a good AI season lasts how long out here in the sun and the
like. Well a very early season sometimes well here before Christmas this year was late it was a middle of January and according to the law the fishing is south of the move by March 15th last year by February 20th machines were back home. Time to fish or cut bait as they say. And Pete said he chose the hardware. The techniques and the patience which can elevate ice fishing for smelt from the mundane to a high art. Here's the hook and the bait and that's a size what hook. Oh I don't know the number I just buy the size you know the number can tell you and is this a leader when you call this the leader and then you have a flasher and that swivel out of Taba because of the twist and I use 14 14 as leaders which I taught myself. Gives them more more freedom down when it's flowing round. Yeah and the
flasher and I actually I actually think the flash is attractive. Yeah but I actually believe they do. Yeah. We're good. Yeah I get it I get a point with you when the minute you put them in your bucket when I'm in my book you'll be able to look at this. There's my bit of it. Here's a piece but you know we're going to get busy over there is a void of my here as a result of the board. Yeah. Thanks a lot. Busy over there. That's more like it feel I think now like that last one. They get a lot of system wants while sometimes you know but it's still are you just playing with me you know I look and you know it was out
of whack you know this is a he wasn't aggressive now or I wasn't quick enough. This is tension filled there must be is it tens of thousands hundreds of thousands the small millions millions not in the world I mean underneath the sheeny or underneath the shanty there's none underneath these two holes but in the layer to maybe in the lake There's probably millions. Now I get rid of your fish finders you when they come in you can see I'm just a salad. But then other times you see and scattered it all the elevations we're doing we're just not go in the summer I mean do these things up into deep water where the water's cold they stay there they're cold water fish they found Essex where there's 600 feet of water but it doesn't have to be that deep to be set up for this lake is 600 feet deep in places. I think it is around us yeah. So the way down there in the warmer no animals call the water. Yeah but in the warmer months the water the coldest
water yes. The reason they're here now is they spawn up here. They're heading for the stream. So we're these this species you know there's not going to strains. So they're going to spawn right here they spawn out here and show the species they have in Lake George that they go up the streams to spawn but they're much they're much smaller than this type of years and years ago my father told me before I remember there was a six inch limit on snow six inches limit. Back then they did what they call the number ones were probably 16 inches long with you'll see and I've seen some 14 inches this year which is really low. So there's no limit you can get in a smell that you want is so much smaller is bigger you know. Yes. They're going to look at the size of that one bar look at the size of that. That's your theory.
OK so it's only we had a great time with Peter. Everyone we met fishing out on the ice and both Paul and I agree that ice fishing can be the perfect cure for cabin fever even if you have to bring the cabin with you. Well that's it that's all the time we have for this edition of people near here on behalf of the other for Paul Frederick. I'm very near to saying thanks for watching. And good luck at the fissionable. OK. That's right. Thanks.
People Near Here
Episode Number
The Ice People
Producing Organization
Mountain Lake PBS
Contributing Organization
Mountain Lake PBS (Plattsburgh, New York)
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Episode Description
"A look at the popular winter sport of ice fishing and the people who think nothing of sitting around in sub-zero temperatures on wind-swept, frozen Lake Champlain staring into a hole in the ice.*(episode number on tape label and/or slate may be incorrect)"
Series Description
People Near Here is a documentary series that explores Adirondack history and culture.
Local Communities
Media type
Moving Image
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Camera Operator: Muirden, Derek
Editor: Frederick, Paul
Producer: Muirden, Derek
Producing Organization: Mountain Lake PBS
AAPB Contributor Holdings
Mountain Lake PBS (WCFE)
Identifier: 0101A (MLPBS)
Format: Betacam: SP
Generation: Master
Duration: 30:00:00
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Chicago: “People Near Here; 308; The Ice People,” 1999-00-00, Mountain Lake PBS, American Archive of Public Broadcasting (GBH and the Library of Congress), Boston, MA and Washington, DC, accessed March 1, 2024,
MLA: “People Near Here; 308; The Ice People.” 1999-00-00. Mountain Lake PBS, American Archive of Public Broadcasting (GBH and the Library of Congress), Boston, MA and Washington, DC. Web. March 1, 2024. <>.
APA: People Near Here; 308; The Ice People. Boston, MA: Mountain Lake PBS, American Archive of Public Broadcasting (GBH and the Library of Congress), Boston, MA and Washington, DC. Retrieved from