NEW YORK (WWTI) — New York anglers are encouraged to try ice fishing this winter. New York State Department of Environment of Conservation Commissioner Basil Seggos encouraged new and experienced anglers to fish on ice this winter and safely enjoy ice fishing during winter months.

Commissioner Seggos urged this recreation as New York has many resources to enjoy the hobby. “From small local ponds to large lakes and reservoirs, New York has a tremendous array of ice fishing opportunities for anglers to experience close to home,” he said. “Many fish species are active throughout the winter months and the fishing can be just as good as during the open water season. As always, before venturing onto the ice, DEC asks all anglers to make sure the ice is thick enough to fish safely.”

According to the DEC, to ensure safety while ice fishing, solid ice should be a minimum of four inches thick. However, ice thickness can vary and anglers are urged to use caution around areas of moving water and around boat docks and housing. Testing the ice can easily be completed with an auger or spud bar.

The DEC encourages anglers to fish with a friend or family member. It is recommended to also contact local bait and tackle shops to learn of the safest location for ice fishing.

Additionally, New York State is scheduled to designate the weekend of February 13 through 14, 2021 as free fishing weekend. This weekend permits all New Yorkers to fish without a fishing license.

Bait-fishing is also a common strategy for ice fishing according to the DEC. The Department provided the following guidance for anglers using bait fish while ice fishing. This includes the following.

  • Review and follow DEC baitfish regulations
  • Ensure that the use of baitfish is permitted in the waterbody
  • Use only certified disease-free bait fish purchased at local tackle stores or use only personally collected bait fish for use in the same waterbody
  • Do not resuse baitfish in a different waterbody
  • Dump unused baitfish and water in an appropriate location on dry land.

New York anglers, with the exception of statewide free fishing weekends, are always required to have a valid fishing license. Fishing licenses in New York State are valid for 365 days from the date of purchase.

Residents are reminded to continue to use recreational opportunities like ice fishing to stay outdoors during the winter months, while also practicing social distancing.

The Department of Environmental Conservation is reminding anglers to be SMART when fishing by:

  • Socially distance at least six feet apart;
  • Mask – Wear one when you cannot maintain social distancing, especially in parking lots and along footpaths;
  • Avoid sharing gear when possible;
  • Respect your fellow anglers and the resource by providing space and practicing ethical angling; and
  • Take out what you bring in or place trash in receptacles.