11 Important Ice Fishing Tips for Beginners

Ice fishing in Ticonderoga and Essex County NY

Tending The Tip-Ups:
Ice Fishing in Ticonderoga – Essex County NY

This is the time of year when being known as “the land between two lakes” is really kind of awesome! Ice fishing in Ticonderoga and the surrounding Essex County region is a treasured winter activity. We are surrounded by fresh clean bodies of water. Lake George, Lake Champlain, Schroon Lake, Eagle Lake, Paradox Lake, Friends, Brant, Indian, and Pharaoh Lakes, to name a few! There are also a host of ponds where you can go ice fishing, even if you have to hike in: Round Pond, Barnes Pond, Lost Pond, Bear Pond, Putnam Pond, Bloody Pond, Burge Pond, Chapel Pond, Springhill Pond, Courtney Pond, Crab Pond, Goose Pond…the list is endless.

If you’re new to ice fishing or if you haven’t done in quite some time, here are some important ice fishing tips for beginners to get you started.

Essex County Ice Fishing Regulations

Tip #1: Get Fishing License/Free Fishing Weekend Feb 18 & 19
  • Get or renew your NYS fishing licenses ahead of time, so that everyone is fishing legally.
  • NYS fishing licenses can purchased for a year, 7 days, or 1 day.
  • Children under 16 do not need a license.
  • NYS offers a free fishing weekend for those without a license on February 16 & 17, 2019.
Tip #2: Know the Regulations
  • Ticonderoga and the surrounding areas fall under NYS Region 5 Regulations
  • For more information on ice fishing in Region 5, call 518-897-1333 or visit Essex County Ice Fishing here.
  • Some Essex County lakes and ponds have special ice fishing regulations. Be sure to know these and abide by them.

Americal Pulpwood Assoc. Ice Thickness TableIce Fishing: Safety First

Tip #3: Know the Ice Thickness
  • Clear ice should be at least 4 inches thick on still water. Stay off slushy ice, and any ice on running water.
  • Ice thickness is not uniform around the lake. Thin ice may be marked but always use caution.

“If in doubt, don’t go out.” 

Tip #4: Don’t Ice Fish Alone
  • Always bring a buddy when ice fishing. The ice can be a very desolate place, and, in case of emergencies, being alone can be fatal.
  • Especially in more remote locations, always tell family or friends where and when you and your buddy are going ice fishing.
Tip #5: Check the Weather
  • Pick a day with a mild temperature and very little wind. There are no windbreaks on the ice and wind chill can drop the temperature significantly.
  • Consider investing in a portable ice fishing shelter. It may well be worth the investment.
  • Avoid heavy snowfall and fog. There are few landmarks on the ice, and fisherman can easily become disoriented in low visibility.
Tip #6: Dress Appropriately
  • Wear multiple layers of clothing. They can be removed if too warm and put back on if too cold.
  • Wear warm gloves, socks, and hats. Bring along a spare pair of gloves.
  • Bring extra clothes in case the ones you are wearing get wet.

Tip: Wool is warm even when wet.

Ice Fishing Tips for Beginners

Tip #7: Drilling the Hole
  • Hand Augers are easy to operate and fairly inexpensive.
  • Power Augurs make drilling through the ice a cinch but have a higher price tag.

Tip: Think about what size fish you want to – or are intending to catch when bringing an auger. It would be a shame to lose a record breaker just because the hole is too small! And yes, it does happen.

Tip #8: Accommodate the Family
  • Ice fishing is fun for the whole family, but young children can quickly lose interest. If your family is new to ice fishing, maybe Start by introducing them to it for just an hour or two, particularly if it’s very cold.
  • Set clear boundaries for the children so they don’t wander off to where the ice might be thin and dangerous.

(More tips for ice fishing with kids from the New York State DEC)

Tip #9: Jigging Vs. Tip-Ups
  • For beginners, jigging means using a lure with bait that you basically drop in the hole and move up and down occasionally to produce a jigging effect.
  • Tip-ups are wood or plastic poles that keep live bait suspended at a determined level in the water. When a fish takes the bait, a flag or other signal lets the fisherman know. This system does not require you to constantly hold the pole, freeing you up to perform other tasks while fishing. Like, uh, opening a can.

The type of rig you use is completely personal preference. If you choose to jig, it’s a more active style of fishing. Tipups are more passive but allow you to do other things, as well as use multiple lines. Actually, some fish like their bait not moving, and these are convenient so they’re worth a go. Fun for kids too!

Tip #10: Get the Right Bait
  • Give some thoughts to which kinds of fish you want to catch and obtain the appropriate bait. Types might include:
  • Perch: Jigs with minnows, minnow heads, perch eyes, maggots, or grubs.
  • Walleye: Tip-up with brights lures, minnows, fatheads, small shiners, or suckers.
  • Northern Pike: Jig or Tip-up with dead bait (smelt, chubs, shiners, suckers, alewives, herring, or yellow perch.
  • Lake Champlain alone boasts over 90 species of fish, so research bait before hitting the ice.

Questions about what types of bait are acceptable? Review the New York State DEC Freshwater Fishing Regulations.

Tip #11: Enjoy Your Catch!

There are all kinds of ways to cook your catch! Here are just a few we would recommend:

These 11 important ice fishing tips for beginners will get you started, but be sure to read everything you can find; go to local bait shops or fish and game clubs to learn more about the safety and fishing techniques used for successful ice fishing in the Adirondacks.

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