Even if you don't know a tip-up from a Lindy Jig, you can still hook your share with ice fishing. All you need is an ice chisel, skimmer, hand line, hooks, sinkers and bait-plus a few layers of warm clothing!
The lower Niagara River offers one of the best winter trout fisheries on the continent. Steelhead, brown trout, lake trout, chinook salmon, coho salmon, bass, walleye, muskellunge or perch-you'll hook it here. Options for ice fishing on Lake Ontario begin with Sodus Bay, a 3,000-acre smörgåsbord of pike, perch, bluegills and walleye. Port Bay, East Bay, and Blind Sodus Bay are equally reliable waters.
The eastern end of Lake Ontario and the St. Lawrence River gateway offer the state's only "no limit" perch fishing; expect the best panfish ice jigging in the state.Black Lake, the largest of the Indian River Lakes, promises the best North Country ice angling for crappie, walleyes, northern pike and yellow perch. Southward, vast Oneida Lake is renowned for walleye and perch "ice-bites."
Stream fishers love the season-long steelhead action on Maxwell Creek, while easterners jig for lake trout and salmon on Lake George with its spectacular Adirondack Mountain views. Ice challenged? You don't have to walk on hard water to hook a fish. Cayuga and Seneca, the deepest Finger Lakes, seldom freeze over. They draw shore fishers to Cayuga's Taughannock Falls State Park and Seneca's Watkins Glen Pier.
Trophy-sized steelhead love to winter in the warmer rapids of Great Lakes tributaries, gorging on salmon and trout eggs. In the Thousand Islands-Seaway region, the Salmon and Oswego rivers offer public access to spectacular fishing, as do large streams like the Genesee, Oak Orchard and Black River, and skinny creeks like Eighteen Mile, Irondequoit, Grindstone and Little Sandy. If you'd like to go with a guide, check the NYS Outdoor Guides Association. The NYS Dept. of Environmental Conservation website has fishing tips and information on fishing licenses, safety and regulations.
Bundle up and drop a line. Your catch will be already iced!