Winter anglers urged to exercise caution as ice fishing season approaches

Ice fishermen may itch at the thought of using these new augers, cabins, and other new gear under their Christmas trees, but before using those freshly unwrapped items at a lake near you, the Department of Environmental Conversation says anglers need to use common sense and heed a few simple tips to stay safe on the ice.

“Winter in New York City offers outdoor adventurers some of the best opportunities to get outside, such as ice fishing, when conditions are right,” DEC Commissioner Basil Seggos said in a statement. .

“With proper preparation and safe ice, anyone can take advantage of the state’s many ice fishing opportunities. Many species of fish are still very active during the hard water season, including perch, pumpkinseed, lake trout, and northern pike, leaving something for every type of angler to get out on the ice.

Safety is essential during the ice fishing season and fishermen should make sure the ice is thick enough before venturing out, officials said. Four inches of solid, clear ice is generally safe for anglers accessing the ice on foot.

The thickness of the ice can vary on water bodies and even within the same water body. Officials said fishermen should be especially careful of areas of moving water and around boat docks and homes where bubblers can be installed to reduce ice formation.

Ice can easily be tested with an auger or pin bar in various places. DEC also encourages anglers to fish with a family member or friend for safety reasons.

Plus, local bait and tackle stores are great resources for learning where the ice is safe and what other anglers are catching.

Beginner ice fishermen are encouraged to download articles and guides from the state’s Ice Fishing webpage – – which contains also additional information, including a list of waters open for ice fishing, popular baits, and a link to DEC’s channel which has a host of educational and informative videos.

Anyone looking to try ice fishing for the first time should consider the weekend of February 19-20, as the DEC has designated this weekend as “Free Fishing Weekend” and a license requirement. fishing is temporarily lifted, according to DEC security. announcement.

Ice fishing tips:

Make sure the use of baitfish is permitted in the body of water by checking special regulations by county.

Use only certified, disease-free bait purchased from a local tackle store and save the receipt.

Only use baitfish collected personally from the same body of water where they were caught.

Dispose of unused baitfish and water in an appropriate location on dry land.

Always have a valid fishing license before you venture out on the ice. Fishing licenses are valid 365 days after purchase.

More information on ice fishing, including the entire chapter of “A Beginner’s Guide to Freshwater Fishing”, is available on the ministry’s website at

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