Ice fishing is a popular winter pastime in the North Country. I’ve seen various bays of Lake Champlain populated with little ice shanty towns every winter when the ice freezes enough. Fishermen (and women) who can’t wait for spring can bundle up and try their luck on the ice.
My dad and brother built their own shanty and after a day on the ice they usually come back with a bucket full of small smelt. Of course, being winter, they clean them in the house and the smell lingers…
However despite some of the hardships, like the smell and the cold, ice fishing is an enjoyable activity for many in the winter. It’s something that gets you out of the house and together with friends while being productive (or just having fun) in this dark season.
Some ice shanties are built on site as in the video below, and others are made so that they can be saved and put out on the ice year to year.
Types of Ice Fishing
There are two kinds of ice fishing. One type is known as jig fishing. This is a more active style involving a short fishing pole known as a jig. Steve Piatt in his article “Days on the ice: Great fishing, superb eating” gives a quick description of both types.
There are two basic types of ice fishing, one which lends itself to socialization and the other which doesn’t. Myself? I’m generally a jig fisherman, preferring to run and gun on the ice in search of perch, then focusing on a hole and jigging up as many fish as I can. It makes for some productive days and great fish fries at home, but doesn’t offer a lot of time for chit-chat. (LakePlacid.com)
Tip-up fishing is the other style. This is a sedate style where the use of a shanty is common to protect fishermen from the elements while waiting for a bite.
The other, however, is tip-up fishing, when you bait your rig (usually with a minnow or smelt), set the tip-up then simply sit back and wait for the flag to fly, signifying a bite. On the good-weather days, and especially when someone has brought along a propane stove and some venison from the recently concluded deer season or simply burgers and hot dogs, it’s a great day to enjoy some time on the ice under the guise of fishing. Landlocks are the typical target, although setting a series of tip-ups with smaller minnows can keep you running when the perch are on the feed. (LakePlacid.com)
Of course, whatever type of ice fishing you will choose you much first drill holes in the ice at your chosen spot. Check out some drilling tips here. Remember to examine the ice fishing regulations for New York State. You must have a fishing licence!
Ice Fishing Locations
The North Country is full of lakes and ponds that offer prime ice fishing locations when the ice safely forms. Be sure not to fish on private property unless you have permission. Check here for ice fishing locations in Essex County and throughout regions in New York State.
Captain Mickey Maynard of Lake Champlain Angler Fishing Charters offers some tips on the best Lake Champlain ice fishing locations in his article “Fishing In A Winter Wonderland.” For some tips about bait choices and a few more lake location hot spots check out the article “Ice Fishing Tips from Norm.”
Ice Fishing Safety
The most important information you need to know when ice fishing are the safety precautions! Continue reading about ice fishing safety!