New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) is reminding anglers to be cautious when ice fishing.
After 1 to 2 feet of snow fell over most of the Adirondacks Saturday and Sunday, on Thursday temperatures reached near 40 in some areas melting ice and leaving slushy ice conditions with large puddles of water on many frozen waterbodies.
Temperatures are expected to return to below freezing day and night through the weekend, but it will take some time to refreeze properly. Until then, expect deep slush and water, and/or deep crusted snow and slush ice on frozen waterbodies.
The presence of snowmobile tracks or footprints on the ice is not evidence of safe ice conditions. Individuals are strongly encouraged to check ice conditions and avoid situations that appear to present even a remote risk. Testing the thickness of ice can easily be done with an auger or ice spud at various spots.
Four inches of solid ice is usually safe for anglers on foot. However, ice thickness can vary between waterbodies and from place to place on the same waterbody. Anglers should be particularly wary of areas of moving water and around boat docks and houses where bubblers may be installed to reduce ice buildup.
February 16-17, 2019 has been designated as a free fishing weekend. The requirement for a fishing license is waived during this period. This free fishing weekend is an opportunity to try ice fishing for the first time or for experienced anglers to take their friends ice fishing.
The use of fish for bait is popular when ice fishing and bait fish may be used in most but not all waters that are open to ice fishing.
Anglers should take these important steps when using baitfish while ice fishing:
- Review and follow the DEC baitfish regulations;
- Make sure that the use of baitfish is permitted in the waterbody by checking the special regulations by county section of the Freshwater Fishing Regulations Guide;
- Use only certified disease-free bait fish purchased at a local tackle store or use only personally collected bait fish for use in the same water body in which they were caught;
- Do not reuse baitfish in another waterbody if the water the baitfish were purchased in has been replaced; and
- Dump unused baitfish and water in an appropriate location on dry land.
Anglers must have a valid fishing license before heading out on the ice. Fishing licenses are now valid for 365 days from the date of purchase.