Ice Fishing Oneida Lake, an Introduction

Ice Fishing Oneida Lake

Ice Fishing Oneida lake I started ice fishing Oneida Lake when I was 12 years old. I spent quite a few days out in the blustery cold and sunny days spudding holes with my uncle, who lived near the lake for many years. We never used a shack, electronics, power augers, machines to travel, heaters etc.…. As I grew older, I found myself, spending more and more time open water and ice fishing. I’ve enjoyed open water fishing the lake, but, found ice fishing to be more relaxing and there is less traffic to contend with. I will mention, I have all of the proper gear to fish with now, that I didn’t have when I fished with my uncle. He’d tell me.. “what do You need heat for? We’ll get warm when we return home”. Being an ex-Vietnam vet….he was tough!! Spending time with my family on the ice and, sharing my passion with them is important to me. My son goes most times, but, my wife and daughter get out once in a while as well. There have been some very productive fishing days, very slow fishing days and, well, Mother Oneida can deal her hand at any time she wants to. You could be set up in one direction for wind and, another minute she can change wind direction and wind speed like someone threw a switch. Sunny one minute and, whiteout blizzard the next minute, you can’t see 10’ in front of you. Personally, over the years, I have battled her more times than most people would like to. But, I still go back…

Oneida Lake is the largest inland lake in New York state located in Both Oneida and Oswego Counties. The lake is 21 miles long, east to west, and, with a width of 5 miles, north to south. Average depth of the lake is 25’ with the max depth of 55’.

Parking and access points are located around the lake. Godfrey Point State launch, Big Bay, Oneida Lake is the largest inland lake in New yorkCleveland docks; Apps Landing, Williams Beach, Constantia; Mill Street; North Bay, Lake Street; Sylvan Beach to name a few. Please use caution whenever you decide to access the lake at any of these accesses. The ice conditions aren’t always the same or safe as the other. They could change at any time. Get info from the local bait shops for ice conditions. Or read posts about those bodies of water Your thinking of fishing on forums. Some of the best info is from the ice anglers themselves.

Bait shops around the lake are as follows. Bartell road Bait and Tackle, located on Bartell Road, Brewerton, NY. App’s Bait and Tackle, Located on St. Rt. 49 in Cleveland, NY. East Shore Bait and Tackle, Sylvan Beach, NY. Mickey’s Bait and Tackle, North Syracuse, NY. Gander Mountain, Cicero, NY. They all carry tackle and bait needed for ice fishing Oneida Lake.

Many people use Jigging rods and reels, tip ups and, tip downs to fish through the ice on Oneida. Common baits that are used are as follows…Swedish pimple spoons, jigging raps, kastmaster spoons, larger demon jigs, silver, gold and copper colored spoons all work well. Some people tip the hooks with minnow head only, some use the whole minnow. I prefer jigging mostly and, always use a dead stick rig with a slip bobber float with a lively minnow hooked through the back for the times a spoon or jigging rap doesn’t seem to entice the fish into biting.

Species of fish that are caught through the ice are Walleye, Yellow Perch, Smallmouth bass, white perch, bluegills, crappies, sunfish, pickerel, catfish and burbout. Panfish and pickeral are caught in shallow bays, while walleye, perch, and the other mentioned fish are caught in deeper water. My personal best walleye caught is 25 ¾” and, a 13 ¾” yellow perch through the ice. There have been bigger of both species caught.

Enjoying a little serenity, ice fishing Oneida Lake,Early ice makes for some really good fishing. Makes travel for walkers easy to get to their fishing spots. Early ice can also be a dangerous ice to walk, if, you don’t know the ice. Always carry a spud and try to travel with a partner. The same goes for late ice. Travel with snowmobiles is good most of the winter. Be cautious when the lake receives a couple of feet of snow on the ice. The weight of the snow can produce water that soaks the ice from below, making a slushy mess underneath, Stopping and starting can be rough, even for a snowmobile. Quads are good to go until the snow stacks up. Travel with quads and, walking is nearly impossible at that point.

I hope this, will help some of the new Oneida Lake ice fisherman have some success, catching a few fish and have an enjoyable outing.  I also hope that you enjoy the lake as much as I do.

As I finish writing this, I know, not too long from now, I’ll be enjoying a little serenity, ice fishing  Oneida Lake, my favorite lake. Have a safe and fun hard water season!!

Oneida Lake, NY Ice Fishing Conditions and Reports

Oneida Lake, NY Chat

Oneida Lake (east) Contour Map

Oneida Lake (west) Contour Map

New York Ice Fishing, Lake George

Lake George, one of America's most beautiful lakes, is a prime ice fishing destination.

Lake George, one of America’s most beautiful lakes, is a prime ice fishing destination.

Nestled between mountains in the Adirondack Park, Lake George is a beautiful, spring fed glacial lake nicknamed The Queen of American Lakes. The lake extends north and south for approximately 32 miles and is considered part of the Lake Champlain Basin because it drains north into Lake Champlain through a number of waterfalls via the short La Chute River. Lake George is divided into two major basins. The Southern Basin is home to Lake George Village and is the hub of tourism in the region. The Northern Basin is relatively undeveloped and serves as a quiet, rustic alternative to the hustle and bustle of the village.
Lake George is renowned for its fabulous sport fishing and as one of the preeminent ice fishing destinations of the Northeastern United States. There is a remarkable lake trout / landlocked salmon fishery in its cold deep waters and a respectable cool water fishery exists for smallmouth bass, northern pike, perch and panfish. All these fishes with the exception of the smallmouths are on tap when the lake freezes over usually by mid January. When freeze up occurs there are legions of anglers at the ready, venturing onto the crystal clear ice. At 4 inches the ice is as clear as glass. It is an eerie feeling walking along, ice fishing gear in hand, seeing distinctly the bottom features 20 or 30 feet below.
The large size of this lake means that it generally doesn’t freeze over completely at one time. There are certain protected bays and coves that will harbor safe ice, sometimes for weeks, before it is considered safe to venture out on the open lake. These bays have become legendary to the ice fishermen that ply them harvesting the tasty yellow perch, pumpkinseed and bluegills that dwell just below their frozen surface. Huddle, Sawmill, Harris, and Northwest bays are some of the more popular southern basin locations for “first ice” on Lake George. When the ice indeed gets safe there are times when hundreds of ice anglers will be squeezed into an area of just a few acres making for an “on ice city” and a “party atmosphere”. When fishing for yellow perch most ice anglers use tiny fishing rods called “jig rods” these will be equipped with a matching reel and 2 or 4 pound test line. There are several choices for bait: waxies, spikes, or mousies are all good choices. Sometimes the fish seem to show a distinct preference for minnows so it is wise to have a few dozen icicle minnows on hand just in case.

Tasty yellow perch are caught ontip ups or jig rods.

As the cold upstate New York winter progresses the ice eventually gets thick enough that dedicated ice fishermen can access the deeper waters of the main lake basins. Lake trout are the primary target when fishing the depths but some anglers will target and occasionally catch landlocked salmon too. Lake trout can be caught by “jigging”.
However, a much stouter jig rod is required to haul a 24 to 38 inch laker from the depths than those used for the comparatively smaller perch. The traditional way to approach laker fishing is by employing tip ups. Tip ups come in a variety of types and configurations. Basically they all have a submersed spool for the line, some sort of arrangement to support the spool over the hole in the ice and a tripped signaling device, usually a small brightly colored flag. This little flag has given rise to the cry heard all around the lake when the fish are biting, FLAGGGG! When ever it is heard all heads will be craning to see if they are the ones with the luck this time. If it happens that I am the lucky angler all bets are off as I go flying, slipping and tripping across the slippery surface of the lake “chasing the flag”.
There are as many theories about how to best proceed once you get to your tip up as there are anglers on the ice. Some say to let the fish run with the bait then stop to swallow it. When this is done and the fish begins to move off again it is time to set the hook. This is how I was taught and it is a distinctly old school approach. Attitudes have gradually changed over the years and now a significant portion of the bigger game fish caught are landed, photographed and quickly released. Catch, photograph and release, abbreviated CPR. This new awareness of the value of our larger game fish has given rise to some techniques and tackle to facilitate CPR. Treble hooks rigged with bait are called quick strike rigs and that is how they are employed. Instead of waiting and allowing the fish to swallow the bait deeply, we now get to our tip up wait for the line to come up taught once we can feel the fish we then set the hook. Sometimes we miss a fish this way, but the ones that are brought out on to the ice can be easily unhooked and then quickly returned to the water where they stand an excellent chance of survival.
As you can see Lake George is an ice fisherman’s paradise. The beautiful lake in its spectacular setting dressed in snowy whiteness will have you wishing for 12 months of winter every year. If you have fished the lake you know what I’m talking about. If you have yet to make your acquaintance with this North Country Lake then this would be a good year to give it a try. If you hear a cry in the distance FLAGGGG! and see a guy dashing over the ice to a his tip up it might just be me!
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