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Ice Fishing

Watch a clip about ice fishing and check out other clips on DEC's YouTube Channel.
photo of ice angler with dog

Anglers in New York State can stay busy all winter by targeting some of their favorite fish species through the ice.

If you've never been ice fishing before and would like to test the waters - learn how to ice fish.

Popular Species to Target for Ice Fishing

While most freshwater fish can be caught through the ice, only certain species are in season through the winter. Some popular species to target through the ice in New York:

Ice Fishing Regulations

Ice fishing is permitted on many waters in New York State, but not all. View Fishing Regulations by County (leaves DEC website) for ice fishing specific rules and regulations.

Ice Shanties

Ice shanties must be marked on the outside with the owner's name and address in letters at least 3 inches high. Shanties must be removed from all waters by March 15 to prevent them from falling through the ice and becoming hazards to navigation.

Baitfish

Baitfish are commonly used when ice fishing. Make sure your baitfish are certified disease free when you purchase them. Never dump unused baitfish or water from your bait bucket into a lake or pond. Undesirable aquatic invasive species might be mixed in with your bait or bait water. View NYS Baitfish Regulations here (leaves DEC website).

Ice Safety

Safe ice should be your number one consideration when ice fishing. A minimum of three to four inches of solid ice is the general rule for safety. Ice thickness, however, is not uniform on any body of water. The guidelines presented here are based on new, clear ice on non-running waters. Since ice thickness can vary on a lake, check the ice periodically to stay safe.

Ice Thickness Table (for new, clear ice only)
Ice Thickness Permissible Load
2 inches or less Stay Off
4 inches Ice fishing or other activities on foot
5 inches Snowmobile or ATV
8-12 inches Car or small pickup
12-15 inches Medium truck

Note: This guide is based on new, clear ice on non-running waters. Slush ice is about 50 percent weaker. Clear ice over running water is about 20 percent weaker. Double the recommendations for white ice. Many ice anglers do not like to fish on less than five inches of ice, and do not like to drive a pick-up truck on less than 15 inches of ice. Use common sense!

Be cautious in areas where "bubblers" are used to protect docks. They can produce thin, unsafe ice some distance away. Be especially alert in areas near shore, over moving bodies of water, and where streams enter and exit lakes and ponds.

Remember, use the buddy system while ice fishing - it saves lives.

Places to Ice Fish in New York

Region 3 Ice Fishing

For more information on ice fishing in Region 3, call 845-256-3161 or email fwfish3@dec.ny.gov.

Region 4 Ice Fishing

For more information on ice fishing in Region 4, call 607-652-7366 or email fwfish4@dec.ny.gov.

Region 5 Ice Fishing

For more information on ice fishing in Region 5, call 518-897-1333 or email fwfish5@dec.ny.gov.

Region 6 Ice Fishing

For more information on ice fishing in Region 6, call 315-785-2263 or email fwfish6@dec.ny.gov.

Region 7 Ice Fishing

For more information on ice fishing in Region 7, call 607-753-3095 or email fwfish7@dec.ny.gov.

Region 8 Ice Fishing

For more information on ice fishing in Region 8, call 585-226-2466 or email fwfish8@dec.ny.gov.

Region 9 Ice Fishing

For more information on ice fishing in Region 9, call 716-372-0645 or email fwfish9@dec.ny.gov.