We mark this second birthday with 61 new followers and over 24,000 page hits! And we thank the 32 staff, interns, and partner organizations who have shared their passion for State Parks through the blogs that they have written. We also want to recognize our partnership with the New York Natural Heritage Program who helped in initiating this feature and continues to provide support.
We look forward to continuing our celebration of State Parks in the months to come in Nature Times. Hope to see you soon at one of our Parks or Historic Sites!
Ice fishing opportunities abound in New York State. Winter anglers can catch a variety of fish; primarily perch, sunfish, pickerel, northern pike and walleye. In addition, many waters throughout the State are open to fishing for trout, lake trout and landlocked salmon.
Ice fishing requires doing a little homework. Learning about the equipment needed, proper clothing, safety precautions, the water you want to fish, and fishing regulations are all part of a successful, enjoyable winter fishing experience. Accompanying a friend on an ice fishing outing or visiting a tackle shop in a popular ice fishing area can be great ways to learn about the skills and equipment needed. The New York State Department of Environmental Conservation’s (DEC) ice fishing webpage also has some very good information to help you get started and lists some of the waters where you can ice fish. Pay particular attention to the ice safety section. There are also a number of free fishing clinics held in New York each year, including ice fishing clinics.
DEC and State Parks will co-host a free ice fishing clinic from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Wednesday, February 17, at Glimmerglass State Park in the town of Springfield, Otsego County. The event will be moved to the public boat launch at Canadarago Lake just south of Richfield Springs on NYS Route 28 if there is not sufficient ice on Otsego Lake. Find out if the clinic is going to run by contacting Glimmerglass State Park at 607-547-8662.
In order to ice fish, you must first cut a hole in the ice. An ice auger is a good way to accomplish this. Ice augers come in a variety of sizes, so try to use an auger that is appropriate to the species of fish you are after. You will also need an ice scoop to clean slush and ice chunks out of the hole after it is cut.
Ice fishing methods include “jigging” with short, light fishing rods and using tip-ups. There are many different kinds of jigging poles and tip-ups available. Jigging involves the use of a jigging rod and either an ice jig or a small jigging spoon which is often tipped with a piece of bait. Spikes and mousies (maggots) are a good bait to use for smaller panfish, while minnows are often used for larger species. By jigging your bait (raising the rod tip up and down a few inches), you help attract fish to your bait. Generally, you will jig the bait a few times, then pause for a few seconds. Fish usually take the bait during the pause.
A tip-up is basically a spool on a stick that holds a baited line suspended through a hole in the ice. When the bait – usually a minnow – is taken by a fish, the pull on the line releases a signal, such as a red flag.
Placing the tip-up, photo by DEC Fisheries
Tip-up ready to catch a fish, photo by DEC Fisheries
Fish in similar areas you would during other seasons: weed lines, humps, depth changes, points, or other structure. Contour maps can help you find some of these places. Early morning or late afternoon tend to be the most productive times of day to fish.
Proper clothing is critical for safe ice fishing outings. Dress warmly, paying extra attention to your head, feet and hands – dressing in layers is essential.
Every winter, thousands of anglers take to New York’s frozen waters in quest of their ice fishing bounty. Ice fishing can be a relatively easy and inexpensive way for the entire family to enjoy some mid-winter outdoor fun. Terrific ice fishing opportunities can be found within or in close proximity to many state parks; with several free fishing clinics and derbies occurring each year that introduce new ice fishing anglers to the sport. Chances are one of these hard water fishing opportunities is close to you!
Ice fishing does not require a lot of expensive gear to get started, especially compared to other winter sports like skiing, snowboarding and snowmobiling. Unlike open water fishing, you don’t need a boat to get out on the water…just a nice pair of insulated winter boots. Once out there, you can use all sorts of tools to get through the ice to access your fish, including axes, ice spuds, augers and power augurs. Fishing techniques include actively fishing with small jigging rods or setting tipups (fish traps) rigged with live bait (e.g., shiners or suckers). Many types of fish are active and feeding under the ice throughout the winter months, including bass, pike, walleye, trout and panfish.
To learn all about the basics of ice fishing and what you will need to get started, visit the NYS DEC webpage for “Ice Fishing Basics.”
When you feel you are ready and dressed appropriately for New York’s winter weather, come out and join our OPRHP and NYS DEC staff and volunteers at an ice fishing clinic or derby near you!
Coming up in February, there are two ice fishing clinics scheduled for Central New York – February 22, 2017 at Otsego Lake, Glimmerglass State Park and February 26, 2017 at Lakeland Park (Cazenovia Lake), Cazenovia. Both clinics are free fishing day events, with no fishing license required for participants. For more information on the 8th annual ice fishing clinic at Glimmerglass, call 607-547-8662 or visit the State Parks calendar. For more information about the ice fishing clinic at Lakeland Park, contact Judy Gianforte, Cazenovia Preservation Foundation, 315-877-1742.
Click below to watch a video of Anna & Izzy Hughes catching their pickerel. (Note: You must be using Internet Explorer in order for the video to stream properly).
Click below to see another angler Derek Conant from Otisco catching his first fish through ice on Otisco Lake.
Post by Tom Hughes, photos by Tom Hughes and Matt Fendya, videos by Tom Hughes.