By MIKE CORN

mcorn@dailynews.net

WEBSTER RESERVOIR -- For want of an ever-so-soft-nibble, the temptation can be strong enough to make a man head out on what he had feared might be less-than-ideal ice conditions.

Indeed, the temptation of biting trout was simply too much for John Cooper, Grainfield, after watching the unmoving tip of his fishing pole.

So he ventured up the stilling basin at Webster, where four others were pulling trout after trout out of ice holes.

He was ready to try his hand.

Cooper, Grainfield, wasn't in much of a hurry. The weather was otherwise ideal, even if the fishing was slow.

"I've got all the time in the world," he said of his fishing technique. "I've been out here a couple hours."

A couple hours without a bite, however.

"I like to ice fish," he said. "but I don't know how thick it is."

A quick conversation with one of the four people already out on the ice resolved that uncertainty, letting him know the ice was plenty thick.

His words a few moments earlier became prophetic.

"I haven't caught a thing," he said. "I haven't even had a bite. I'm getting desperate."

Cooper said he ventures up from Grainfield to Webster as often as possible.

"Last week, the wind blew so hard," he said a week ago. "And no fish is worth that.

"I was wanting to come over Monday and Tuesday, but I didn't want to fight that wind."

So far this year, he's been up to Webster five times.

Not long ago, he said, he caught his "limit in just a couple hours."

Despite his love for fishing, and the urge to go home with a stringer full, it's all for him.

"I'm the only one in the house that eats fish anyway," he said.

Cooper said he frequently gives fish away to friends.

"I usually catch my limit," he said of his trout-fishing expeditions. "There are times when I get skunked, however. I think today is one of those days if I stay here."

And he said Webster is a nice place to fish, especially for trout.

"I've got a daughter up in Damar," he said. "We stop in and visit once in a while."