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January 17, 2013

DEC warns of ice fishing hazards

By Mark Boshnack
Cooperstown Crier

---- — With the start of winter, the state Department of Environmental Conservation issued a media release to remind ice fishers to enjoy their pastime responsibly.

For instance, the agency cautions that 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 for themselves and avoid situations that might present even a remote risk.

A minimum of three to four inches of solid ice is usually safe for anglers on foot.

Ice thickness can vary even on the same body of water and 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. For more information visit the DEC website at www.dec.ny.gov/outdoor/7733.html.

“Ice fishing provides a great opportunity for people to get outdoors during the long winter months,” DEC Commissioner Joe Martens said. 

According to a recent DEC survey, ice fishing participation has doubled over the past 10 years. Unlike other angling techniques, it is relatively simple and all one needs is a warm pair of boots, a good ice auger, some tip-ups or a jigging rod and the willingness to experiment to have success, he said.

The use of fish for bait is very popular when ice fishing and baitfish may be used in most but not all waters. See www.dec.ny.gov/outdoor/71546.html for a list of special regulations by county to find out where baitfish can be used and other regulations that might apply.

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

• Follow the regulations to prevent the spread of harmful fish diseases and invasive species.

• Use only certified disease-free baitfish purchased at a local tackle store, or that has been personally collected for use in the same water body in which it is caught.

Anglers looking for potential ice fishing locations should request a copy of the DEC “I FISH NY Guide to Freshwater Fishing”. This map and brochure provides locations of good public fishing opportunities throughout New York State. Anglers can obtain a copy at any DEC regional office, or they can request a copy online by emailing the DEC at fwfish@gw.dec.state.ny.us. Additional information on ice fishing, ice safety and regulations can be found on the DEC’s website at www.dec.ny.gov/outdoor/7733.html.