Thinking about ice fishing? Some people cannot imagine toting a sled with supplies all bundled up to sit over a hole in the ice as the wind blows through them. Many fisherman find this time to relaxing, not to mention having a bbq over alot of hot coffee and conversation to stay warm. Strategy and patience is what you need for ice fishing. Here are a few ideas to help you find a place to fish, what to wear, what to bring, and how to stay safe while you enjoy your time outside.
New York State has a variety of fish that people enjoy fishing for during this cold weather. Perch, sunfish, pickerel, walley, and trout to name some.
How do you get started? The best way to get started is go with a friend or stop at a local tackle shop to find a popular ice fishing area. At tackle shops they can tell you where the fish are being caught. Watch for announcements on ice fishing tournaments. Stop in and talk with Bass Pro associates to see what they recommend. Ice fisherman tend to share tips, techniques, and stories. They are very social.
Cutting the Ice:
The simplest way to cut through the ice, is the "Spud Bar". Inexpensive and it works well on the ice up to a foot thick.
Hand Powered Augers are slightly more expensive than spuds and are very easy to operate. This is the best compromise for moderate ice conditions. Pan fish people favor 4,5, or 6" because they are light weight and faster. For a larger fish go to a 8". People who go ice fishing on a regular basis or for a extreme ice condition use a more expensive option or a gas powered ice auger.
What pole do you use?
Jigging Rod: This is a short light fishing rod used with tip-ups. Bass Pro Shop has many different types of tip ups and jigging poles. Any associate in our Fishing Department can direct you to the one that is best for you. Jigging involves use of a jigging rod or hand line and a small jigging spoon or lure with bait. It is designed to move in different directions when jerked up and down.
Tip Up: A tip-up is a spool on a stick holding a baited line that goes through the ice. When the fish grabs the bait, the pull on the line releases a signal that you have a fish (example: red flag).
Clothing: Pay attention to the weather and dress in layers.
Ice Safety: Minimum 3 to 4 inches of solid ice is the rule. The ice thickness differs on the water. Always use good judgement. Avoid moving water, including where streams. The ice thickness table below is based on clear, blue, hard ice on non-running waters. Slush ice is 50% weaker.
Stay away from docks with bubblers. They can produce thin unsafe ice a distance away. Always fish using the buddy system.
The American Pulpwood Association has a Ice Thickness Table they suggest you follow when out on the ice. This is based on clear, blue, hard ice on non-moving (running) waters.
Ice Thickness Permissible Load
2" One Person on Foot
3" Group Single File
7.5" 1 Car (2 tons)
8" Light Truck (2.5 tons)
10" Truck (3.5 tons)
12" Heavy Truck (7-8 tons)
15" 10 Tons
20" 25 Tons
Regulations for Ice Fishing:
You have a limit of 2 jigging lines (or hand lines) and five tip ups in most waters. Each tip up is marked with the operator's name and address. The operator must be present when lines are in the water and you must have your fishing license on you. Always review regulations before you go by visiting www.dec.ny.gov.
Beginner Equiptment List:
Thermal Long Johns
Sweatshirt or Warm Flannel Shirt
Warm Hunting Coat
Waterproof insulated boots
Commercial ice fishing rod, tip-up, or dowel rod
20-50 yards of 6 pound monofiliment fishing line
Hooks, Flat Hooks, Treble Hooks
Split Shot assortment, Mousies, Maggots, Mayfly Larva
Bait, Swedish Pimple (lure), Minnows, Wax Worms
Auger, Ice Spud, ladle, bucket, 25' nylon rope
Don't forget some food and coffee
Here are a few products we sell here at Bass Pro Shop that will make your ice fishing experience enjoyable.
The Clam Vista Thermal Ice Shelter can accommodate 2 to 3 people.
How about the Soroc Sports Sled? Perfect to pull all your supplies, it is made of thermoform construction.
The Bass Pro Shop Hand Ice Auger, comes in a 6" or 8" with soft rubber handle. Lightweight and portable.
Need something with power? Check out the Strike Master Chipper Lite Ice Auger. This unit has a pointed chipper blade tip to keep the unit from bouncing around. Lightweight and powerful
We have many tip-ups to pick from, but check out the Bass Pro Shop Ice Artic Angler Tip Up. Highly Visable with indicator and flag, measuring board and weather resistant molded base and spool.
The Clam True Blue Ice Fishing Spining Combo comes with a oversized spool, cork grips and is solid graphite.
Finally stay warm with the Clam Corp Ice Armor Edge Cold Weather Parka and the Clam Corp Ice Armor Ultra Insulated Bibs. Waterproof, breathable, reflective safety piping and windproof.
Consider taking up a little Ice Fishing this year. Stop on by and talk with any of our Fishing associates who will be happy to help you get started.