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!
If you would like to see even more Lake George, New York ice fishing info and photos register for an account and become a member of   IceFishin247.com.

Lake George Bait and Info:
Fish307  Bait and Tackle

Return to:
IceFishin247 – Forum
New York Ice Fishing Forum

New Hampshire Ice Fishing

new-hampshire-ice-fishingLocated just south of the White Mountains, in central New Hampshire’s Lakes Region is picturesque Lake Winnipesaukee. Surrounded by mountains on many sides, this lake is known for its beauty and epitomizes New Hampshire ice fishing. The lake has a maximum depth of 200 feet and covers 71 square miles. Affectionately referred to as “Winni” by locals and regular visitors, it is a very popular destination in the summer attracting vacationers, boaters, and sight seers. Another well-known activity on Winnipesaukee is ice fishing. The lake is managed by the State for lake trout and landlocked salmon but holds a wide variety of other species. Although state regulations prohibit taking salmon through the ice, lake trout fishing attracts thousands each winter. The average lake trout caught usually weighs around 4 pounds with many 10+ pound fish caught each year. Regulations such as an 18 inch minimum, 2 fish per day limit, 2 line limit, and more catch-and-release fishing help keep the population of this popular fish thriving. An average depth of 40 – 45 feet, rocky bottom, and healthy rainbow smelt population make Winnipesaukee the perfect lake trout lake. Other sought after species include white and yellow perch, crappie, bluegill, cusk, stocked rainbow trout, large and smallmouth bass.

The ice fishing season for lake trout is from January 1st through March 31st. Species other than lake trout can be caught year round and often are. The lake has its own group of hardcore pan fishermen who regularly fish for white or yellow perch, crappie, and bluegill. Winnipesaukee is well known by locals for its healthy white perch population. Pan-fried fillets of white perch are the highlight of many New Hampshire fishermen, and women. Then there are the cusk fishermen. In addition to the 2 line limit, regulations allow anglers to use an additional six lines rigged specifically for cusk and anything other than cusk must be released. Cusk lines must be non-moving (no free moving spool), have the owners name and address printed on each one, have a minimum of one ounce of weight nor more than six inches above the hook, and the bait must sit directly on the bottom. Fishermen are required to inspect the bait end of each cusk line once every 24 hours. As soon as the bays freeze over fishermen and their bobhouses will start to dot the ice. Winnipesaukee never freezes all at once due to its size and depth. However, with its many bays and large coves there is never any shortage of places to fish early ice.

For lake trout, many fishermen prefer to use tip-ups baited with live smelt or sucker set directly on, or just off the bottom. Others prefer to jig for them. One of the most popular methods include a bucktail jig baited with a strip of sucker belly and jigged near bottom while occasionally bouncing or even letting the jig sit on bottom. Whatever the method, lake trout fishermen can be found on Lake Winnipesaukee on any given day during the winter.

Central New Hampshire isn’t called the Lakes Region because of Lake Winnipesaukee alone. Other popular lakes in the area known for their lake trout and/or white perch and rainbow trout include Winnisquam, Squam and Little Squam, Sunapee, Ossipee, Tarlton, Silver, Big Danhole Pond, and Newfound Lake. Each year the Meredith Rotary Club holds the Great Rotary Ice Fishing Derby. The derby includes any public water body in the state and is attended by thousands. Prizes for the event total more than $60,000. The top three prizes are awarded to the three heaviest Meredith Rotary tagged rainbow trout. The rotary club stocks these trout into many of the Lakes Region lakes. Also, the derby headquarters where fish are to be registered is in Meredith and for this reason most of these lakes are popular destinations during the derby.

Some other popular lake trout lakes include Nubanusit in Hancock, Silver Lake in Harrisville, and Big Diamond Pond and the Connecticut Lakes in the Great North Woods. Let’s not forget the panfish though. In addition to the many lake trout lakes, New Hampshire Fish and Game provides a list of trout ponds with no closed season. Many of these ponds are stocked in the fall with rainbow, brook, and brown trout of trophy size. These fish are highly sought after by early ice fishermen.

new-hampshire pan-fish-ice-fishingThere isn’t a lake or pond in New Hampshire that doesn’t contain panfish. White and yellow perch and bluegill are considered great eating but one other seems to stand out, black crappie. Crappie has its own cult following of fishermen who usually set out to catch enough for a meal of these tasty pan fried fish. The daily limit on most panfish is 25 fish per day with a 50 fish aggregate. Small panfish jigs tipped with earth worm, meal worm, or spikes on an ultra-light jig rod is the preferred method. New Hampshire’s crappie population continues to grow and so does their popularity.

New Hampshire’s “Official List of Public Waters” lists 959 public water bodies, only roughly 150 are closed to ice fishing. There is no shortage of places to ice fish. Whether you want to fish in groups with others people or just get away and enjoy some quiet, scenic relaxation and reflection; there is a little, or a lot, of something for everyone.

written by Tim “Jiffy Man” Moore

Seacoast Guide Service, Ice Fishing Charters, Guaranteed Fish!

 


Return to:

IceFishin247 – Forum
New Hampshire Ice Fishing Forum