Taking advantage of winter’s ice and the hungry fish to be found underneath it was something that came quite naturally to me. Living along the banks of the Susquehanna River it was only a matter of time before I gravitated to it in quest of the plentiful walleyes that dwell there. I quickly discovered that ice fishing rivers can be very productive. I recall the ruckus it caused when I started posting about all the fun I was having fishing frozen river eddies on the North Branch. I was called a lunatic, irresponsible, crazy and worse, those were the days.
My first experience ice fishing on a river occurred when I took a road trip to test myself ice fishing on the St Lawrence River in the Alexandria Bay area. The results of the experience were so positive that I continued to make the trip a yearly event for a half dozen or so years. I explored the Wellesley Island access points many of which are located on state park land and are maintained minimally for ice fishermen. Pike were my fishy targets back then and I had days of catching several dozen of them. Fishing Wellesley Island at Lake of the Isles yielded pike, some monster largemouth bass and perch too. River ice fishing was great fun.
After, ice fishing the St. Lawrence I was ready to test the Susquehanna River and see if the walleyes of January were as hungry and ready to bite as they had been before ice up in December. I was not to be disappointed. The walleye fishing was awesome the fish were fat and willing to bite a baited jig or a minnow dangled below a tip up. Besides the ‘walleye I caught muskellunge and northern pike with an occasional carp or channel cat turning up too. River fishing was a productive and exciting ice fishing adventure. During this period of time I was traveling back and forth from NJ to PA up to several times a week. Every time I crossed the frozen Delaware I found my self wondering if it would be as ice fishing friendly as the Susky. Having fished both sides of the Delaware while chasing shad in the springtime I remembered a few spots the should have nice thick and safe ice to test the Big “D’s” ice fishing. For my first attempt I went up into the Delaware River National Recreation Area on the Jersey side traveling north well up into the heart of the Rec Area. There I selected a large eddy that was always a good shad producer. Once on the ice I found it to be about 14 inches thick and well frozen. I drilled a line of holes along the contour of an island up the back channel keeping at least 7 or 8 feet of water below the ice as I went. It wasn’t long before the flags were flying and I had my 3 walleye limit including one 28″ trophy.
Ice fishing rivers is riskier than fishing frozen lakes and ponds. This can be attributed to the flowing water found in them. When fishing rivers seek out eddies or other places where the current is reduced by obstructions. Sharp bends in the river will frequently create the slack water conditions required for ice to develop into safe evenly frozen sheets similar to what we find on lakes and ponds. Islands can create conditions favorable to safe ice fishing spots. places where tributaries enter the river can also make sizable river eddies.
The Susquehanna’s North Branch is blessed with a good number of slower moving eddies where ice can accumulate and thicken unhindered by the stronger current found in the main channel. One thing to note if you decide to give riverine ice fishing a try is that many (not all) of the best locations are located adjacent to public boat launches or other public access areas. This holds true on the Delaware, the Susquehanna and the St. Lawrence rivers it must be more than a coincidence and have some basis in the planning of these facilities. If you decide to give river ice fishing a try take a friend bring a rope and a life saving flotation device. Take care getting on and off the ice. Pay Attention to everything while you are on the river, pay attention to wet spots and any visible color variations in the ice. I like to take a spud along. I poke and pry at the edges before setting foot on river ice. If you are shaky about fishing on frozen lakes and ponds then this is not going to be for you. Ideally you should have ice experience and confidence in your ability to read the ice. Ice fishing rivers can be a rewarding ice fishing adventure give them their due respect and you could have your best day ice fishing ever.
If you want to learn more about ice fishing rivers.
Or learn about the sport of ice fishing in general, we are here to be a friend, lend a hand and be a resource in your icy pursuits. Whether you are a beginner or an icy veteran seasoned by many winters spent on our frozen lakes, you will find a warm fire, good friends, and extraordinary tales when you step through the doors of IceFishin247.com.