Ice fishing opportunities abound in New York State. Winter anglers catch a variety of fish; primarily perch, sunfish, pickerel, northern pike and walleye. In addition, many waters throughout New York State are open to fishing for trout, lake trout and landlocked salmon. Check the "Special Regulations By County" sections of the Fishing Regulations Guide (link below).
Fishing through the ice requires skill and knowledge as does open water angling. But, anyone can ice fish successfully if he/she does the homework. Learning about the water to be fished, the equipment and its capabilities, proper clothing and safety precautions are all part of a successful, enjoyable winter fishing experience. Perhaps the best way to get started is to accompany a friend or neighbor on a half-day ice fishing outing. If you are unable to locate anyone to go with, the next best alternative is to visit a tackle shop in a popular ice fishing area. The proprietors are interested in seeing that you have a successful and enjoyable trip and will provide you with all of the necessary equipment. You may also watch for announcements of local ice fishing contests or tournaments run by local sportsmen's clubs - ice fishermen tend to be a highly social group, eager to share tips, techniques and stories.
For a first trip, try to pick an opportune weather day - remember those blustery January days will soon fade into mild February and spring-like March days which often provide some of the most productive ice fishing of the season. Whatever the day you decide to go ice fishing, be sure to check the ice for safety.
Most all ponds and lakes offer ice fishing potential. Their characteristics define the kinds of fish that may be caught. Large, shallower ponds and lakes favor species such as chain pickerel, northern pike, yellow perch and sunfish. Deepwater lakes need to be fished selectively to get good catches of northern pike, walleye or lake trout. Brown trout, rainbow trout and landlocked salmon, where they may legally be taken, are often found in deep lakes, which provide necessary cool temperatures in the summertime. However, when these lakes are ice-covered, trout are frequently caught while cruising just a few feet under the ice. The local tackle shop where you purchase your bait should be able to advise you on where fish are currently being caught.
Regardless of the fish species that you are seeking, concentrations of anglers or the presence of many old holes will provide an indication of areas where good catches have recently occurred.