DEC Reminds Anglers to Put Safety First When Enjoying Ice Fishing - A New NYSDEC Press Release

NYSDEC Press Release
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DEC Reminds Anglers to Put Safety First When Enjoying Ice Fishing

A Minimum of Three to Four Inches of Solid Ice is Usually Safe for Anglers on Foot

The New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) today reminded ice anglers to enjoy the ice responsibly. Three to four inches of solid ice is usually safe for anglers accessing ice on foot. Ice thickness can vary on every body of water or even within the same body of water. 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. The presence of snowmobile tracks or footprints on the ice should not be taken as evidence of safe ice conditions.

Individuals are strongly encouraged 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 very popular sport in New York State and interest in the sport is increasing," said DEC Commissioner Joe Martens. "Unlike other fishing techniques that may require a boat or special equipment, ice fishing is relatively simple and inexpensive. All one needs is a warm pair of boots, a good ice auger, some tip-ups or a jigging rod and the willingness to walk a bit to have success."

Based on DEC's last statewide angler survey, more than 800,000 days are spent ice fishing New York's waters annually. For more information on ice fishing, visit DEC's website.

The use of fish for bait is very popular when ice fishing and bait fish may be used in most but not all waters that are open to ice fishing. Visit the DEC website for a list of special regulation by county to find out where bait fish can and cannot be used, and for other regulations that apply to baitfish at

Anglers are reminded to take these important steps when using baitfish while ice fishing:

  • Follow the bait fish regulations to prevent the spread of harmful fish diseases and invasive species (please see: Special Regulations by County).
  • Use only certified disease-free bait fish purchased at a local tackle store, or use only personally collected bait fish for use in the same water body in which they were caught.
  • Do not reuse baitfish in another water-body if you have replaced the water they were purchased in.
  • Dump unused baitfish and water in an appropriate location on dry land.

Anglers looking for a good place to ice fish should check out DEC's Public Lakes and Ponds map available on DEC's website. This interactive map provides recommendations on waters open to ice fishing provided by DEC staff.

Anglers are reminded to make sure that they have a valid fishing license before heading out on the ice. Fishing licenses are now valid for 365 days from the date of purchase.

Ice fishing is an example of Governor Cuomo's NY Open for Fishing and Hunting Initiative, an effort to improve recreational activities for in-state and out-of-state sportsmen and sportswomen and to boost tourism opportunities throughout the state. This initiative includes the streamlining of hunting and fishing licensing and reducing license fees, improved access for fishing at various sites across the state, and increasing hunting opportunities in various regions.

Over 50 new access projects were funded in 2014-15 and many of these have been completed, making it easier to access the woods and waters of New York, whether you are a boater, hunter or wildlife watcher. In addition, the number of statewide free fishing days have been increased from two to eight and a new Adventure License, a series of Adventure Plates and a Hunting and Fishing App are now available to New York outdoor enthusiasts.