Time to try ice fishing, maybe

By on January 28, 2019
Ice fishing with the new shelters and warm clothes they have out these days, an angler can stay as warm as if they were in their own living room. Provided photo

Ice fishing with the new shelters and warm clothes they have out these days, an angler can stay as warm as if they were in their own living room. Provided photo

Reports are starting to trickle in that there is safe fishing ice starting to form around the area. The ponds in Greece, Irondequoit Bay and Sodus Bay all have some fishable hard water. I drove down to take a look at the Greece ponds and there were a dozen ice huts out on Cranberry Pond and the same number on the east side of Braddock Bay around the State Marina.  From a few of the ice fishermen I’ve talked to, I’ve learned that they are just starting to produce some catches of perch. Now mind you, most ice fishermen would rather give you their social security number than give up their good perch fishing spots, but some will give you a vague idea of what’s going on. A good way to find out current ice conditions and how the bite is going is to Google the bait shops in the area you want to fish and give them a call. They are getting information from the fishermen who come in and buy bait on a daily basis and are more than happy to pass it on. For example, if you call or stop in at “Stew’s Grocery & Deli” they can give you an update on the fishing action on the Greece ponds. Sal, the owner can tell you where the best bite is taking place and has a great selection of bait available including four types on minnows along with spikes, wax worms and mousies. They also have a decent selection of ice fishing tackle. Another great thing about Stew’s is that they are open at 6:30 a.m., seven days a week.

The problem with the ponds in Greece is that they still haven’t solved the problem of parking on Cranberry Pond. The tiny parking lot on the northwest corner is full much of the time and you cannot park on Edgemere Drive by Cranberry Pond like you can on Edgemere by Long Pond. Why these two ponds, right next to each other, have different parking rules … I have no idea. If all else fails, park on Edgemere Drive down by Long Pond and walk back to Cranberry.

Irondequoit Bay has some fishable ice. Call or stop at S & R Bait & Tackle Co. for fishing details.

Sodus Bay had some great ice fishing all last winter and some early reports are they are doing good this year. For ice conditions and fishing reports on Sodus, call or stop in at Bay Bridge Sport Shop. If you are looking to take an ice fishing road trip, Oneida Lake, just north of  Syracuse, and Chaumont Bay in Jefferson County will offer some of the best walleye ice fishing in New York state. Google bait shops in those locations and give them a call before you go.

There is a decent website for local ice fishing info, go to iceshanty.com and look for the New York State threads. There is often some helpful info there, just be sure you are reading reports from 2019 as past years’ reports still pop up when you visit the site.

With the perch population getting healthier in Lake Ontario, the ice fishing in the bays and ponds off the lake will just keep getting better and better. And with all the new fancy ice fishing tents, heaters and other gear available out there now, you can be almost as warm as you are in your living room. Again, this year I waver on whether to try ice fishing, but I can’t work up the nerve to do the right thing. I’ve watched a dozen ice fishing videos on YouTube. I have plenty of warm clothes, most from my stylish camo ensemble. I have a pop-up blind that I use for turkey hunting that should double as an ice fishing hut and a propane heater that should keep the hut warm. I also have a large sled to pull all this equipment to my fishing hole.

The only thing I’m lacking is the nerve to walk on three inches of new ice that has barely formed in the area. I figure as long as the ice I’m walking on is over shallow water, I can’t get into life-threatening trouble. If I were to fall through, I’d only go in waist deep water. The worst that could happen is that I get wet, cold and go home early.

Now walking on ice over six-foot-depth is a different matter. I have friends that have fallen through while ice fishing and tell the tale as that being the most traumatic thing that has ever happened to them. Most veteran ice fishermen will tell you that all you have to do is walk where others have gone before you and don’t wander off the beaten path … you will be fine.

I plan on waiting until I see a Zamboni out on the ice and then maybe I will venture out over deep water. Hmmm, that just gave me an idea.  Maybe I’ll just drill a few holes at Lakeshore Rinks and see how the fishing is there. It’s got to be safer and much warmer fishing indoors … right?