We’re still waiting for the deep freeze that will make it safe to ice fish the lakes and ponds in the Lake George Area. Until then, we’d like to bring you up to speed on one of the most relaxing outdoor winter pastimes we’ve ever tried. Whether you’re an avid ice fisherman or just looking for more information on the sport, there are a few things you need to know so when the water freezes, you’re ready to get out there!
Safety is Number One!
Look for waters where the ice thickness is at least 4 inches, five is better. Any less and you’re asking for your fishing trip to turn into a polar plunge. Be especially careful near shore where ice tends to be thinner and around docks where homeowners may have bubblers in the water to protect docks from ice damage. Areas with moving water such as streams that feed lakes and ponds should be avoided unless you are an experienced ice fisherman.
Our best safety advice: Bring a friend! Someone needs to take a picture of you with your catch!
What to Wear?
It’s going to be cold and once you’re set up, you probably won’t move around much so dress appropriately. It’s usually windier on the water absent the tree cover of the shore. Wear layers of warm, water resistant clothing and pay special attention to your hands, feet and head. Extra pairs of gloves or mittens are a good idea. You may also want a pair of knee pads.
When to Go?
We suggest mid-February and early March. Depending on winter temperatures, most bodies of water should be frozen by then and the strong gusts of wind common in early winter will have subsided into relatively mild conditions on the water. Just keep in mind that smaller ponds will freeze before larger bodies of water. Always check the ice depth.
Yes, you need one. They’re affordable – $5 for a day, $12 for a week and $25 for a year if you’re a NYS resident. Double that if you’re from out of state. Saturday and Sunday, February 18 and 19 are free fishing days. Anyone is able to try out ice fishing that weekend! To fish in the Lake George Area, you’ll need a DEC Region 5 license. These can be obtained at most fish supply stores and town offices throughout the area. For a complete list in Warren County, click here.
Ice Fishing Spots & Fish Species
There is a complete list of ice fishing spots here. Again, the smaller the lake or pond, the sooner it will freeze. Species vary depending on where you decide to fish and its depth. You’ll be able to find Yellow Perch and Pumpkinseeds in most spots. Trout, bass and pickerel are also common in the Lake George Area. Ask what’s biting when you stop to grab your bait.
There are a ton of options and high tech updates are coming out all the time to make ice fishing easier and more fun! Here are the basics:
- Auger – This is what you’ll use to drill a hole in the ice – there are manual and powered options.
- Rod and Reel – We suggest having a rod and reel made for ice fishing.
- Bait or lures – This will depend on where you fish and which species are in the water there. Ask at a local fish shop when you stop to purchase your bait.
- Bucket or chair – You’ll want to sit on something. You can also use the bucket to bring in your catch.
- Sled – Load it up to easily transport your gear onto the ice!
- Shanty (optional) – These are nice for keeping the wind at bay and are available at many price points. Avid ice fisherman build shanties on a body of water and fish the spot all winter!
We suggest visiting a local pro shop to gear up, get some tips and get the inside scoop on the best spots for the day! One of our favorites is Fish307 in Lake George.
Make sure you review the state ice fishing regulations so you are aware of where you can fish, which gear is allowed, what fish you can take home and how many lines you can put in the water at once! Complete information is available through the NYS DEC website.
There’s an App for That!
No kidding! The Official NY Fish & Wildlife App makes it easy to locate fishing spots and follow regulations.