Saturday, February 4th, 2023
Saturday, February 4th, 2023

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New, simpler ice fishing regs greet New York anglers

Under the new regulations, ice fishing is now permitted on all waters in New York unless specifically prohibited. (Photo by Rob Drieslein)

Albany — When the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation adopted a series of new fishing regulations back in March, the goal was to simplify things.

When it comes to ice fishing, they’ve done just that.

Under the new regulations, ice fishing is now permitted on all waters in New York unless specifically prohibited. However, nine Adirondack counties are an exception to the new regulation and they are Essex, Franklin, Fulton, Hamilton, Herkimer, Lewis, St. Lawrence, Warren, and Washington counties. Previous ice fishing rules remain there, which means that unless there’s a special regulation allowing ice fishing on a specific body of water, it is prohibited.

When explaining the new regulations to New York Outdoor News earlier this year, DEC’s Bureau of Fisheries Chief Steve Hurst noted that a several New York waters were open to ice fishing but if people weren’t look ing in the special regulations, they could be missing out on opportunities.

“Especially these stocked, cold-water ponds that we stock with browns and rainbows,” Hurst said. “There’s no reason not to have ice fishing. So, let’s allow it, unless we say it’s prohibited. Look at ice fishing today, it’s hugely popular.”

Coinciding with expanded and simplified ice fishing regulations was opening the seasons for brown trout and rainbow trout year-round in ponds (note stream fishing regulations are catch-and-release). Hurst said going forward DEC would treat lakes and ponds where rainbows and browns were stocked differently, especially from brook trout waters.

There were no changes implemented regarding brook trout but efforts have begun on what will be the first brook trout management plan in decades.

“Brook trout are different,” he said after the regulations were announced. “You know the efforts we’re putting into the Adirondacks to restore brook trout, and they can be very vulnerable throughout the ice. We’d better leave them alone.”

Therefore, while the proposal simplifies ice fishing regulations by clearly establishing where ice fishing is permitted in most of the state, the prevalence of brook trout waters the nine northern (Adirondack region) counties, the existing ice fishing regulations remain in place and require anglers to know if a water is inhabited by trout or not.

The expanded ice fishing and brown and rainbow trout fishing opportunities were part of a package announced in the spring that, among other changes, established hard opening days for several species, including walleye, northern pike, muskellunge and black bass.

Another proposal not adopted by DEC was a suggested year-round lake trout season, which has been tabled. Hurst said the brook trout management plan is the priority and that the agency will look at lake trout management down the road.

The seasons for landlocked Atlantic salmon, and splake (a brook trout/lake trout hybrid) are also now open year-round.

Baitfish regulations remain in place. Anglers must use baitfish that are certified as disease free and show proof of purchase. Anglers should never dump unused baitfish or water from a bait bucket into a lake or pond.

For more information on New York’s ice fishing regulations, consult the 2022 Freshwater Fishing Guide, or visit:


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