Warren County is home to dozens of clean, cold lakes, ponds, rivers and streams that bring in anglers by the thousands each year.
And while many come for the warmer months when the weather is more hospitable, ice fishing in the depths of winter has a growing following among diehard fishermen and women who understand the winter can be the best season to land a lunker or catch a fresh meal.
With an active trout and salmon stocking program through Warren County Fish Hatchery and New York State Department of Environmental Conservation, dozens of lakes, ponds, rivers and streams in Warren County are home to rainbow, brook, brown trout and Atlantic salmon.
One of the big attracting factors of ice fishing season is that some of the region’s best trout and salmon fishing spots become accessible to anyone who doesn’t mind a bit of a walk.
Granted, that walk can be through snow, slush or on slippery ice, but all it takes is a pair of healthy legs and some gumption to get to sections of water where a boat would needed during the rest of the year.
In the winter, those prized coldwater game fish come out of the depths and can be caught in bays and near shore, leveling the playing field for those who don’t have the money or time for a boat.
Gearing up for ice fishing can be fairly inexpensive. To cut a hole in ice, you need an auger, and people-powered versions start at around $30, while motorized ones run significantly higher. Ice anglers use smaller rods, or tipups, that can cost under $10.
There are a few other pieces of gear that will help keep your hole-in-the-ice open, and your day more comfortable; any of our local bait-and-tackle shops can help outfit you with what you need. Safety is paramount; wear a life vest, and carry a spike to help pull yourself out of the water if you get dunked. Ice conditions change rapidly, and can vary greatly within a few feet based on springs and currents.
The same baits that work in the summer can also catch fish in the winter, with minnows, grubs and even nightcrawlers good enough to lure a steady stream of action.
While trout and salmon are prime quarry in the winter, ice fishing season is also when those who love to eat fish can load up on yellow perch, one of the tastier fish we find in the Adirondacks.
Here are some of my favorite publicly accessible Warren County ice fishing waters:
Lake George – You can’t talk ice fishing in Warren County without starting with Lake George, known as the “King” in the local ice fishing community. When it freezes, anglers come from all over to get after the lake’s big lake trout (10-plus pounders are common) and improving salmon fishery, and yellow perch that can be caught by the bucket. But the steady winds that steadily whip the lake hinder it from fully freezing some years. The bays in the south end (Dunham, Harris and Kattskill) and Northwest bays almost always freeze regardless, so anglers can still get on the lake’s periphery. And unlike the summer, lake trout and salmon can be found in the shallows of these bays in the winter.
Loon Lake – This 563-acre lake in Chester has good public access from its south end off Route 8. It’s known for yellow perch, northern pike and an underrated walleye fishery.
Brant Lake – A state boat launch on the lake’s west end in the town of Horicon allows plenty of anglers to hop on, and Brant Lake rewards them with some big brown trout and rainbow trout. It’s also a solid yellow perch fishery.
Schroon Lake – The south end of this big lake sits in Warren County, where there is also a big state boat launch for access. Landlocked Atlantic salmon, lake trout, northern pike and perch are most sought after on Schroon.
Lake Luzerne – This small lake in western Warren County has a sneaky good rainbow trout and pike fishery, as well as bass and plenty of perch. Public access can be found at the town boat launch off Route 9N.
Garnet Lake, Thurman – State land on the western side of the lake allows public access, and this small but scenic lake produces some nice perch and pickerel.
For more information on ice fishing, check out this New York State Department of Environmental Conservation link, which also includes a list of Warren County ice fishing waters. Please note that not all waters are open for ice fishing, and the DEC has its rules listed here at this link.