Submitted by guest blogger Mike Crawford, from Upstate Guide Service
For those who don’t ski or snowmobile but still love winter, ice fishing is something you might enjoy! Spending a day admiring beautiful Adirondack landscapes, being outside in winter relaxing with friends or family, trying to catch a fish under the ice -- that’s what ice fishing is all about. Nothing too complicated.
The surface of the frozen lakes in winter can be brutal. Strong winds and heavy snow in the forecast mean it might not be the best day for an ice fishing trip. The best time to go is when the barometer is stable and the wind is calm. These conditions are present quite often in the Central Adirondacks in February.
The jig is up
Ice fishing can be simple. It does not require any previous experience to participate. And it’s easy to stay comfortable on the ice! Modern equipment, such as lightweight portable shelters and compact propane heaters, create enjoyable experiences. Ice fishing is also a good way to get fresh fish fillets for a Friday evening fish fry!
For recreation or for food, ice fishing is a traditional part of the North Country winter. In the Central Adirondacks, there are many different lakes to choose from. The New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (NYSDEC) has defined the lakes in Hamilton County upon which ice fishing is permitted and which ones are not. Most of the lakes available have good access and are easy to find.
Go where the fish are
The lakes with state campgrounds, like Lake Eaton, Fourth Lake, Forked Lake, Limekiln Lake and Raquette Lake, are open to ice anglers. These lakes are provided with annual stocking of thousands of trout (rainbow and brown) and char (lake trout). Splake is heavily stocked in some Central Adirondack lakes that are open to ice fishing. Splake are a hatchery produced hybrid of lake trout and brook trout … a fish that shows all the innocuous vigor of a brook trout (a.k.a. speckled trout) with the appetite and attitude of a lake trout. Thus the name.
The NYSDEC publishes its trout stocking report each year. This publication is a valuable resource for ice anglers planning a trip to the Central Adirondacks. It provides an idea of where the fishing may be good and which lakes are open to ice fishing. If the NYSDEC, for instance, stocks 6,000 nine-inch landlocked salmon in Lake Eaton and Fourth Lake each year, well, the odds are good you may catch one there!
Besides stocked trout and lake trout, the ice angler can pursue northern pike through the ice. Northern pike are eating machines. Calculated eating machines, at that. But they are not always easy to catch. They occupy the shallow weeds, shoals, and rocky points of warm water lakes and flows, like those of Long Lake, Indian Lake, and Utowana. The northern pike is a great game species that is underfished in many parts of the Central Adirondacks. Fourth Lake is regarded as an excellent northern pike lake.
Yellow perch and smelt are considered panfish. In most lakes where they exist in the Central Adirondacks they play a large role in the health of the lakes’ food chain. They are preyed upon by apex predator fish, such as lake trout and landlocked salmon, in their immature stages. Their populations are indicative of healthy fisheries. Both smelt and yellow perch have a following as fine eating panfish and many ice anglers target them exclusively.
Ice fishing is an affordable and exciting way to spend a day in the Adirondacks! Licensed professional guides servicing the Central Adirondacks and Hamilton County can provide outfitted and expertly guided ice fishing trips. A safe, enjoyable, and successful trips on the Adirondack ice of Hamilton County is a great way to spend a winter weekend!
What you need to know before you go
- New York State licensed guides are available to provide you, your friends, and family with a safe, comfortable, and enjoyable ice fishing trip in the Central Adirondacks. All equipment, heated shelters, and lunch is provided on a professional Adirondack guided ice fishing trip.
- Appropriate cold weather clothing is required. Footwear is most important. Knee high insulated rubber boots are necessary.
- Each person 16 years of age or older needs a valid NYSDEC Fishing License for the day. These can be purchased on-line and the transaction captured on a smart phone.
- Lodging and dining is easy to come by in the Central Adirondacks in the winter. Great hospitality and friendly people are the hallmark of the Long Lake, Raquette Lake and Inlet corridor of the Central Adirondack region.
See you on the ice!