Ice Fishing Trip Planning for New Territory

Ice Fishing Trip Planning for New Territory

Planning an ice fishing trip? Do to a strong El Nino, this winter looks to be the year of the road trip, especially for PA, down state NY and ice fishers on the southern edge of the ice belt . I am convinced that more of us than ever will be taking to the highways and heading north in search of first ice, early ice and possibly any ice at all. With that in mind I am offerng this article on the subject “Planning an Ice Fishing Trip, specifically into new territory”. This isn’t going to be a check list of what to take, I think most of us know what we need to go ice fishing. Instead, it will cover getting ready with information which will help guarantee, that when you get to your destination you have a game plan and get the most out of your time in the icelands.

Contour maps are available for planning an ice fishing trip.The first step in planning an ice fishing trip is deciding on a destination. This year I suspect that will be anywhere with ice for most of us. Looking for an area that will get ice early is not too difficult it needs to be the coldest place that you can think of within your reach and within parameters of your available time. For colder than average temperatures you need a northerly location with elevation, Stay away from the immediate great lakes area and river valleys. Once you have a general location in mind then you can start getting to the fine points. Smaller, shallower and sheltered lakes will freeze and hold ice earlier than vast and deep windswept lakes will. Too, the smaller sheltered bays on big lakes can develop ice much earlier than the main body of water does. The more lakes in your target area that you identify as icy potentials the more options you will have when you get on site and have to find safe ice.

Your next task, now that you have selected an area and a handful of likely lakes to ice fish on, is to learnNavionics has a vast inventory of detailed lake contour maps the lay of the land. What species of fish reside in the lakes you will be fishing and what the regulations are regarding taking them through the ice. You will also want to know where the public access points are and and lets not forget bait and tackles. You will probably be staying overnight for a day or more so a motel or cabin that can accommodate ice fishermen will be necessary, as will a good pub or restaurant for a meal and a brew to bring a great day on the ice to a fitting close. The internet has made gathering all this information easier than it used to be but, one still has to dig and be willing to look in unexpected places if you want to fish like a local.

The internet has been a boon to DYI adventure planners like me. You can use Google or one of the other web search engines to find information on virtually any subject. I like google, probably because that is what I grew up using, so that is how I will proceed with this section of the discussion but you can substitute your own personal favorite search provider with similar results.

A screen shor from Google Maps of Lake George

Google Maps are invaluable for planning an ice fishing trip.

Be creative when you are doing your info gathering searches. Look in the local Chamber of Commercesites. Follow the links for activities, not just the ice fishing links, but the hiking, X-country skiing and snowshoeing links. I recently found an unmarked path to a lake I have always wanted to fish listed in a snowshoeing trail map. A short level drag to a lake that was seemingly inaccessible. Use google maps satellite view to see under water sandbars and weed beds. You can use state resources like NY states extensive list of contour maps, and their special ice fishing regulations. Navionics has an app for ten dollars that has some really USA good maps and some that are just carbon copies of what is available from other sources. You keep them with you in your smart phone and with your gps turned on you can use them to navigate to under ice structures that would nearly impossible to find using the poke and hope method.

Getting back the the C of C listings, use them for your lodging, dining and bait and tackle needs. Often asking a few questions of a hotel or B&T owner will yield a wealth of information that will be useful. lastly do not forget web forums like and as a information resource. I have had great success searching in the archives of these sites mining info. Bluntly asking for info online will get you a share of derision but a well placed personal message to someone who seems to know what is what will often result in a discreet reply with some info to point you in the right direction.

Planning an ice fishing trip is something that I have aways enjoyed. Digging in and rooting out the info necessary for a great trip helps to pass the time while we wait for safe ice. Knowing that you did it yourself is a great reward at the end of a successful adventure.