As part of Governor Andrew M. Cuomo's NY Open for Fishing and Hunting initiative, the weekend of February 13-14, 2021, is a designated free fishing weekend. The requirement for a fishing license is waived during this period. This is a great opportunity to try ice fishing for the first time or for experienced anglers to take friends ice fishing for the first time.
Beginning ice anglers should download the Ice Fishing Chapter (PDF) of DEC's I FISH NY Beginners Guide to Freshwater Fishing (PDF, 16 MB) for information on how to get started. You can find additional information, including a list of waters open to ice fishing, on DEC's ice fishing webpage and the Public Lakes and Ponds maps.
Four inches of solid clear ice is usually safe for anglers accessing ice on foot. Ice thickness can vary on waterbodies and even within the same waterbody. Anglers should be particularly cautious of areas of moving water and around boat docks and houses where bubblers may be installed to reduce ice from forming. Testing the ice can easily be done with an auger or spud bar at various spots. Fishing with a family member or a friend is also encouraged for safety. Local bait and tackle shops are a great resource for finding out where there is safe ice and what anglers are catching.