Excited to write this as it means we are heading into another season of Guided Adirondack ice fishing in the ADKS! We love all seasons as they all have their own style of fishing and it allows us to guide year round without ever getting bored. We had a wicked busy season of fly guiding, spin fishing, and upland game hunting which have all come to a close with the most recent snow. The Hungry Trout Fly Shop was packed and is now open by appointment only and closed until April 1. We just received about 4” of snow last night in the region after an incredibly warm and dry transition into winter. This will surely help cool things down to start building ice. Hopefully we can maintain these cold temps long enough to follow through with our Christmas Week Bookings. As conditions set up well keep you informed!
We have had a very busy month of guiding with MLK weekend in the mix. We had excellent ice conditions throughout the Essex and Franklin counties with many lakes having over 12 inches of black ice with little to no snow cover. Fishing has been active for perch, Lake Trout and the pike fishing has been awesome. We had a big snowstorm hit the region the other day dumping up to 10 inches of snow. Our guides were out prior to the storm and each had a wicked day chasing flags non stop for hours. Over 20 pike landed in two hours. Super fun to say the least. The snow has made lake travel interesting as some ponds have a layer of slush between the ice and snow creating a messy and wet experience. Other ponds no problem, although the wind had definitely made dragging a loaded sled through the wind drifts and crust a lot of work. Tough day yesterday with huge temperature swings and insane wind. Pike were active catching many pike on the camera, but only getting one to bite in a few hours. Very docile temperament. One of our guides was on Schroon Lake this week and had great luck catching lakers on shiners in 50′ of water about 5′ off the lake floor. Had many chasers but no takers on the jig but landed 7 on the tip ups. Ice fishing is the best……
The Adirondacks are mostly solid at the moment after a few cold snaps. Looking at 5-7” of ice on most ponds and smaller lakes in Essex and Franklin counties. Things are looking good and we are able to expand our reach finally and hit some new bodies of water. Fishing lately has been awesome. Lots of perch and variety of pan fish and very active pike and bass fishing. Trip the other day had us chasing flags consistently and jigging fish in between. Larger bodies of water that have a lot of wind or a strong flow are still very sketchy. We are currently guiding on smaller bodies of water that we know are completely locked up. That will change soon with another cold snap on the horizon, and thankfully no snow. Some of our guides are hitting Schroon Lake today, some smaller panfish ponds for action, and a local favorite with lake trout mixed in. We hit a trip to the Saint Lawrence river this week for walleye and had some success, although slower compared to how it could be. Thanks to Bobby Helms for hooking up the trip.
Recent weather has made the ice in the Essex and Franklin county regions turn to junk. Snow covered slush and variable ice throughout much of the region. There are pockets of decent ice if you explore the region, but many of the go to lakes and ponds have been on hold. They will be back in rotation by mid week, and luckily there is enough water to hit ponds that nobody has fished. This helps because during a thaw/snow/freeze event areas with a lot of holes drilled become sketchy to navigate. The holes melt and can widen and spider web out making them not safe to be near. And if you have 30 holes in a region that can make navigating that area a pain. The holes can also let a lot of water onto the surface adding to the slush layer beneath the new snowfall. We try to rotate where we fish constantly. Provides the guides a fresh and exciting area to fish, unpressured fish, and a clean canvas of ice to drill. All good things. Recently we have been targeting pike, bass and panfish as the trout waters are not super safe yet. Some were just coming into form until this last weather event. Cold weather for the next extended forecast so fingers crossed good ice sets back up across the region and this slush bonds with the current ice! Hopefully not a repeat of last season!
Finally. After a string of warm weather Winter has returned to the region. Sage Ice has starting to set up throughout Essex and Franklin counties, our primary zones. We had 5 separate groups out today chasing pike, bass and panfish and had pretty consistent action throughout the day. It wasn’t a super productive day, but we landed a handful of pike and panfish with some bass via standard tip ups, jaw jackers and jigging. The ice was a solid 6 inches most places, with a layer of slush about 2” in others creating a pretty sketchy feeling moving around. We fished some other areas near Tupper Lake on Tuesday and there was 4 inches of excellent black ice in the bays. That day was quite slow but one fisherman nearby caught a super nice Rainbow to the end the day. The only fish we saw get caught of the 7 or 8 parties and countless tip ups in eye sight. Slow day – it happens. We are pumped to be back on the ice with a lot of guided Adirondack Ice Fishing on the books. Looking forward for everything to continue to freeze, and hopefully we get some really cold fronts coming through before we get a big snow. Lake Trout season will be here soon.
We were able to get out on the ice in the Northern ADK yesterday and pulled our first pike through the ice! Some of the lakes surrounding the region are still wide open, while this specific pond had 4-5.5 inches of healthy ice throughout. We were in a shallow bay on the edge of deep water, and fishing tip ups with shiners hung just under the ice. About 12” if line below the flag only. Unfortunately it is now pouring outside and we are watching the ice built up in the region slowly melt away. The near term forecast doesn’t look very promising, although evening temps next week may help. We should be able to get back out by the end of the week.
Took a trip to Fern Lake today in the Black Brook region. The ice was only 2” thick and mostly cloudy and weak. Lots of anglers saying on social media that the Saranac Region, and the ADK region are frozen and we encourage everyone to use caution. Although some smaller lakes protected from wind may be frozen, many lakes have only a glazed surface of mm’s of ice. It depends where your are. Lake Colby was wide open a few days ago. Lake Champlain near Peru/plattsburgh has absolutely zero shore ice and is wide open. I would not say anywhere is “frozen” at this time although you may find some smaller protected ponds with enough ice for light travel. We are heading out tomorrow to scope many ponds in the Saranac vicinity and will update soon.
Any ice we have seen in the Lake Placid/Whiteface region is not yet safe for travel. While we are very excited to get out and fish, we are definitely waiting for stronger ice to set before we venture out. Most of the ice is weak ice which formed during the most recent snow storm. Much of the southern ADK’s and larger lakes are 100 percent open water. Stay tuned here for the latest Adirondack Ice Fishing reports. We will let you know as soon as we find suitable ice conditions.
Four Tips for early Adirondack Ice Fishing
The Adirondacks are some of the most scenic and fertile fishing grounds in New York State. It is no surprise that it is a favorite past time for many locals. It is also a popular destination for ice anglers from all over the northeast. Check out these tips and tricks from the guides at Adirondack Ice Fishing to ensure a safe and successful outing.
Before you enjoy any winter outdoor activity, you should be familiar with inherent risks of the sport and have educated decisions steering your every move. When ice fishing we are always prepared for an emergency and have safety plans in place. Having a change of warm clothes, warming blanket, first aid kit, extra gloves, throw rope, ice picks, cell phone or even better – an ‘in reach’ gps device is essential. Try to implement a buddy system so you are not on the ice alone and always let people know where you are going.
Early season Ice – Know before you go.
Before you travel onto the ice it is imperative to know that the ice is safe for travel. We do not travel on ice unless there is a minimum of 4’’, and we do not guide on ice unless there is a 6 inch base layer of solid blue/black/transparent ice. Use an Auger or a spud bar as you work your way on to the lake to measure for varying thickness. Remember this: Black or blue/clear ice is strong and opaque or cloudy ice is weak. Opaque ice or non-transparent ice means there are air bubbles and impurities in the ice causing a weaker bond therefore, less support. When in doubt call your local fishing resource or hire a guide.
There are thousands of lakes and ponds in the Adirondacks which can make choosing which one to fish a challenge! To help narrow that down, pay close attention to the NYS state regulations. Familiarize yourself with the area you are hoping to fish. Many bodies of waters are closed to ice fishing, and others have special regulations regarding the use of tip ups and the number of lines an angler can use. Use this information to help guide you toward the right body of water where you can focus on your target species with the tactics you prefer.
When, Where, How
Whether you are fishing ice, open water, or fly fishing your success rate is driven by a few simple questions. When during the day are the fish biting? This varies a little between species. Rule of thumb is the first few hours of daylight, and the few hours before and after sunset are the best times. Where are the fish feeding? Fish like structure. Use a topographic map or software like Navionics to get familiar with the contours below the ice. How am I going to catch them? Having the right tackle, knowing the feeding routine, and implementing the right tactics is crucial to the equation. Knowing if you can use tip ups, live bait and how many lines per angler you can use will maximize your chances.