Think ‘Safety First,’ St. Lawrence County ice anglers warned
Saturday, December 30, 2017 - 5:14 pm

North Country anglers are being warned to put safety first when ice fishing.

The New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) advised that four inches of solid ice is usually safe for anglers accessing ice on foot.

But ice thickness can vary on waterbodies and even within the same waterbody.

Anglers should be particularly wary of areas of moving water and around boat docks and houses where bubblers may be installed to reduce ice buildup, a press release from DEC said.

The presence of snowmobile tracks or footprints on the ice should not be taken as evidence of safe ice conditions, they said, warning people to check ice conditions and avoid situations that appear to present even a remote risk. Testing the thickness of ice can easily be done with an auger or ice spud at various spots.

"Ice fishing is a popular sport in New York State and with the post-Christmas drop in temperature, I am sure anglers are looking forward to an early start to the season this year," said DEC Commissioner Basil Seggos. “The rush to get out onto the ice can lead to tragedy unless anglers remain vigilant to the condition of the ice. Anglers should heed DEC’s recommendation of at least four inches of solid clear ice before venturing out on the ice.”

Ice fishing continues to increase in popularity in New York State. Unlike the open water season, when an angler usually needs a boat to access good fishing locations, no boat is required to access these locations once a water is covered with safe ice. It’s also a great sport for families, as they can mix in skating, snowshoeing, cross country skiing, or other activities during an ice fishing trip to keep everyone interested and happy.

The use of fish for bait is popular when ice fishing and bait fish may be used in most, but not all waters, open to ice fishing. Visit the DEC website for a list of special regulations by county to find out where bait fish can and cannot be used, and for other regulations that apply to baitfish at http://www.dec.ny.gov/outdoor/71546.html.