The first day of 2013, found me waking with the sun to do a little “hard water” exploring, often referred to as ice fishing. Most of the lakes here in Northern Maine open to ice fishing on January 1st and it has long been a tradition of mine to fish opening day. This was something I always used to do with my grandfather, so I am trying to carry on the tradition and get out and set my “flags”. Brent and I headed out to check the ice thickness and drill some holes. As we left, the mercury was hovering in the single digits and the wind was howling. The windchill was somewhere around 24 below zero Fahrenheit which is hand numbing to say the least. As we eased onto the ice the presence of several ice shacks gave us a sense of security, but we still stayed close to shore as we ventured past the shacks to the unclaimed territory. After we had given everyone a wide berth, I drilled a test hole and found about 9 inches of ice. Six inches of it was the nice black ice that is the strongest and the top three inches were the slush ice that has a white appearance to it. I urge caution to everyone as the venture out, as there were spots of only 1-2" of ice. We proceeded to setup our "base camp" and start setting out flags. We only had a couple of traps up when Brent had a flag. Running back, we saw the line flying off the spool indicating the sure sign of a running salmon. Brent set the hook and quickly pulled in the yards of line as we anxiously awaited a glimpse of the silver streak at the other end of the line. It's arrival at the hole showed the undersized fish, so we quickly snipped the line to let the fish grow. It was in the 13" range. We continued setting flags and just before we finished Brent had another flag. This fish had taken lots of line and the smelt, but pulled a disappearing act as it was not tugging on the other end of the line when we arrived. We finished setting and then it was my turn for a flag. I quickly set the hook and pulled the fish in hand over hand only slowing as the flash got nearer the hole. This fish was larger and a quick measure put it at 16 1/2", which meant it would have been my only fish I could keep over 16". As it was still early in the day this beauty was released to swim another day. The rest of the day was slow as we had a few flags with some bait thieves and I iced a large yellow perch. Brent managed to pick up another of the undersized fish which we pulled out for a quick photo op before sliding it back into the icy depths. A quick reminder to everyone that if you are planning on releasing a fish, keep it in the water as much as possible. The fish do not fair well when they are pulled out onto the ice. I brought along my new GoPro camera and got some really nice footage. Check back soon for the compiled video as well as my trap line post which is almost finished!