Cumberland Times-News

Local News

December 11, 2013

Anglers tackling ice fishing on Deep Creek Lake

MCHENRY — There are those who would look at the extended weather forecast for Garrett County and then shiver, complain and reach for the thermostat, but Boyd Church and Doug Oxford are not among them.

Church of Boonsboro and Oxford of Oakland are making sure their hooks are sharp, lines are not frayed and warm clothing is at the ready. Church and Oxford are ice fishermen and a blue norther blowing into Maryland’s westernmost county is good news indeed.

“I expect to be standing on the lake this weekend,” said Church. His optimism is not of the pie-in-the-sky variety. A veteran of high-country, hard water, Church understands the calamity that could take place if the ice cover is thinner than 4 inches. He fishes through the ice almost every weekend it is frozen. A second home in Swanton gives him a local base for his trips.

“I am trying to get Hallmark to change Valentine’s Day to sometime in August,” he said. “Then maybe I could fish every weekend in February.”

Church said he actually saw anglers on lake ice Thanksgiving weekend when it was only two inches thick. “That’s just not smart,” he said.

The recent cold weather will intensify Thursday with a predicted high of 15 degrees followed by an overnight reading of 10 and a wind of 13 mph.

From Dec. 13-19, it will get as cold as 13 degrees and as warm as 34, assuring that augers will drill holes; slip-over shelters will warm anglers; and little jigs and baits will catch fish.

“I prefer to catch bluegills and crappie,” Church said, “but if I’m getting ready for a fish fry I go after (yellow) perch and walleyes.”

Ice fishing takes place on the lake’s sheltered coves such as Harvey’s Peninsula and Green Glade, according to Church, who said chances of the main lake becoming ice are usually iffy.

Church likes ice fishing because it can be done in a social atmosphere or alone, depending upon the angler’s mood. There are no water skiers in January.

Oxford, a teacher at Southern Garrett High School, is Church’s local contact, keeping him informed about the status of lake ice. In addition, the subject is often discussed online on the message board at

“Ice fishing has always been my favorite,” Oxford said of outdoor activities. He’s been catching fresh-frozen fish from the big lake for 30 years.

Oxford said ice fishing offers a surreal feeling.

“You are standing on thick, glass-clear ice looking into a dark hole, drinking coffee, waiting for a fish to bite,” he said.

Oxford’s personal goal is to catch a state-record yellow perch through Deep Creek Lake’s ice, one that will top the 3-pound, 5-ouncer caught in 2006 from a Harford County pond.

“The record is swimming in Deep Creek right now,” Oxford said. “In fact, there are world-class yellow perch in the lake.”

Oxford has been to ice fishing’s Mecca, Devil’s Lake in North Dakota, well-known for its yellow perch.

“When the anglers at Devil’s Lake talk about big yellow perch, they mean 14-inch fish. I have seven angling citations for perch from Deep Creek that are 17 inches.”

Interest in ice fishing on Deep Creek Lake has tripled, according to Oxford, making the biggest leap about 2005 when electronic devices such as underwater cameras entered the picture.

“Most ice fishermen are gear junkies,” Oxford said. A power ice auger can cost up to $700.

Oxford considers himself an open-air ice angler, in that he doesn’t use one of the slip-over shelters that blocks the wind from all directions.

“I’ve always thought if a person is looking for an outdoor experience, why would you enclose yourself like that,” he explained.

Oxford said there are seven or eight different species of game fish caught through the ice at Deep Creek Lake, though he has caught only four trout and one catfish in 30 years.

Oxford’s most important advice to ice fishing newcomers? “Never, ever compromise the 4-inch rule,” he said of minimum ice thickness.

Contact Michael A. Sawyers at

Text Only
Local News
  • W.Va. legislative candidates gearing up for election

    ROMNEY, W.Va. — Five area candidates will be vying for legislative seats in this year’s election.

    April 20, 2014

  •  Easter grass Easter grass

    Kamryn Rice, 7, of Flintstone, finds and bags a plastic egg during Cumberland’s annual Easter Egg Hunt Saturday afternoon at Constitution Park. Hosted by the city’s Parks and Recreation Department, along with students from Frostburg State University’s Recreation and Parks Management program and the 4-H Youth of Allegany County, the afternoon also included games, relay races, face painting, temporary tattoos, arts and crafts, and a petting zoo sponsored by the 4-H Hare Raiser Club, as well as a visit from the Easter Bunny. The eggs contained candy and other treats.

    April 20, 2014 1 Photo

  • Business community wary of minimum wage increases

    CUMBERLAND — Allegany County businesses are certain to be impacted by the increase in Maryland’s minimum wage, set to reach $10.10 an hour by July 2018 under a law championed by Maryland Gov. Martin O’Malley.

    April 20, 2014

  • Tipped workers left behind in pay hike action

    ANNAPOLIS — Many minimum wage workers will be getting a raise now that a hike to Maryland’s wage has been signed into law. But while advocates are ascribing the increase as a win, there’s a bitter aftertaste for one group that was left behind.

    April 20, 2014

  • Views vary among Americans when it comes to hourly rate

    CUMBERLAND — Even among those who have worked minimum wage jobs, views on the minimum wage can differ.
    “Minimum wage has to exist. There is no question there, so whatever it is, it will be called ‘minimum wage’. But it should not be below a living wage,” said Bonita Quick of Cumberland.

    April 20, 2014

  • Income guideline change will increase WIC recipients

    KEYSER, W.Va. — Raised income eligibility guidelines for the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants and Children will increase the number of those served in West Virginia by about 10 percent, according to the state health officer.

    April 20, 2014

  • Absentee ballots moving online causes security concerns

    ANNAPOLIS — Voters may get to skip the lines at the polls this summer by receiving and marking their ballots online, but election officials must first decide if the convenience outweighs the security risks.

    April 20, 2014

  • Allegany County emergency medical services honorees and supporters Allegany, Garrett emergency responders honored

    MCHENRY — The 75 people from Allegany and Garrett counties who were involved with two exceptional emergency medical services calls in 2013 were presented with awards at the recent Night for Stars program held at the Wisp Resort.

    April 20, 2014 2 Photos

  • Lexis Trickett meets with Gov. Martin O’Malley Ninth-grader among 30 at inaugural event

    OAKLAND — Lexis Trickett, a ninth-grade student at Southern Garrett High School, was among 30 girls who attended Gov. Martin O’Malley’s Leadership Forum for Women and Girls recently in Annapolis in celebration of Women’s History Month.

    April 20, 2014 1 Photo

  • School immunization requirements change

    CUMBERLAND — Changes to school immunization requirements by the Maryland Department of Health and Mental Hygiene affect students entering kindergarten and seventh grade for the next school year.

    April 20, 2014

Must Read
News related video
Raw: Crowds Rally at '420' Celebration in Denver Marathoners Celebrate Easter With Tradition Raw: Obamas Attend Easter Service Raw: Easter Morning Delivery for Space Station Ceremony Marks 19th Anniversary of OKC Bombing Raw: Fire Destroys 3 N.J. Beachfront Homes Raw: Space X Launches to Space Station Man Charged in Kansas City Highway Shootings Obama Awards Navy Football Trophy Ceremony at MIT Remembers One of Boston's Finest Raw: Students Hurt in Colo. School Bus Crash Raw: Church Tries for Record With Chalk Jesus Police Arrest Suspect in Highway Shootings Drought Concerns May Hurt Lake Tourism Vermont Goat Meat Gives Refugees Taste of Home Calif. Investigators Re-construct Fatal Bus Cras Appellate Court Hears Okla. Gay Marriage Case Horseless Carriage Introduced at NY Auto Show Chelsea Clinton Is Pregnant Beau Biden Plans 2016 Run for Del. Governor