DEC warns anglers to wait until ice is 4 inches thick

Seeks fishing feedback

Mike Archer of the Rome, New York, area checks one of his tip-ups at the Northern Challenge ice fishing derby in Tupper Lake in February 2016. (Enterprise photo — Justin A. Levine)

The state Department of Environmental Conservation is reminding ice fishermen that safety should come first, despite bone-chilling cold that has created early ice-in conditions.

In addition to following fishing regulations, the DEC says 4 inches of clear ice is typically what can be considered safe for people to walk on. The department said that ice fishing popularity is on the rise, largely because no boat is needed, creating a low barrier to entry.

“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,” DEC Commissioner Basil Seggos said in a press release. “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 4 inches of solid clear ice before venturing out on the ice.”

The department says anglers should check ice thickness regularly, as the ice can vary widely from one waterbody to another and even within the confines of a lake or pond. Springs, flowing water and inlets and outlets can all create thinner, unsafe ice.

Fishing survey

The DEC also announced this week that anglers who bought a fishing license this year may be contacted for a survey regarding fishing behaviors, preferences and opinions on fish management.

The last time the DEC conducted the angler survey was in 2007. The agency will send out questionnaires via email in January and expects to have the results compiled by early 2019. To see the results of the 2007 survey, go to

“The statewide freshwater angler survey is designed to help DEC fisheries managers better understand where anglers are fishing, what they are fishing for, how many days they spend on the water, and what they spend their money on,” the DEC said in a press release. “It also provides managers with insight into anglers’ preferences, satisfaction, and opinions on management topics. Expenditure information provided by anglers will also help DEC better quantify the benefits of freshwater fisheries with respect to the New York state economy.”

“New York state abounds with an amazing diversity of freshwater fishing opportunities in each of our 62 counties,” Seggos said. “From remote Adirondack brook trout ponds and streams, to trophy Chinook salmon fishing on Lake Ontario, our state offers some of the finest fishing in North America.”

The DEC also said Gov. Andrew Cuomo has designated the weekend of Feb. 17 and 18 as a free fishing weekend when no license is required.