Category Archives: Activities

New York DEC Advises About Poor Ice Conditions

New York DEC Advises Ice Anglers and Others About Poor Ice Conditions

Ice anglers and others thinking of traversing the frozen surface of waters in the Adirondacks and other locations should be aware that due to the recent warm temperatures and rain, ice has thinned.


New York DEC Advises Ice Anglers and Others About Poor Ice Conditions

Areas of ice around inlets, outlets and shorelines of largely open water or thin ice should be avoided. Rivers, streams and most channels of moving water through lakes and ponds are also open or covered with thin ice and should be avoided.

Ice near boathouses and docks, especially those using “bubblers” or other ice prevention devices, should also be avoided. Motor vehicles, snowmobiles and ATVs should not be taken on any ice at this time.

No ice should be considered safe without checking the thickness and condition of the ice first.

If you plan to go on the ice, be safe on the ice.


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New York DEC Adopts New Freshwater Fishing Regulations

New York DEC Adopts New Freshwater Fishing Regulations

New or Modified Regulations Established for Various Fish Species and Methods of Take

New freshwater fishing regulations go into effect April 1, 2017, New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) Commissioner Basil Seggos announced yesterday.

“New York State is known for fantastic freshwater sport fishing opportunities,” said Commissioner Seggos. “These regulatory changes will help maintain these opportunities and enthusiasm for the sport.”

The changes to sport fishing regulations are the result of a two-year process that included biological assessment, discussions with anglers, and a formal 45-day public comment period. DEC used public comments to complete the changes. These regulations will be published in the 2017-18 Freshwater Fishing Regulations Guide that will be available at all license sales vendors and on-line in March.

Highlights of the new regulations include:

  • Adjustments to existing walleye regulations in various waters throughout the state, including measures to protect spawning walleye and conservative minimum harvest size and creel limits in waters where managers are trying to establish self-sustaining populations of this popular sport fish. Regulations have also been liberalized for two waters where successful management has resulted in increased walleye abundance, Chautauqua Lake (Chautauqua County) and Franklin Falls Flow (Essex County);
  • Modifications to DEC Region 7 Finger Lakes rules to increase survival of rainbow trout, brown trout, and Atlantic salmon and to create a greater balance between these species and lake trout;
  • Allowing ice fishing in some waters and restricting the number or use of devices used for fishing through the ice (including, but not limited to hand line, tip-up, tip down, etc.) in other waters to protect self-sustaining populations or limit fishing pressure;
  • Simplification of the black bass regulations in Lake Erie by compressing the three existing seasons into two while expanding opportunities to use live bait and harvest one large bass per day during a special season;
  • Greater protection for northern pike in the St. Lawrence River due to the declining abundance of spawning adults and poor recruitment of young-of-year fish in the Thousand Islands region;

  • Relaxing of special regulations for trout and Atlantic salmon for various waters in DEC Region 5 (Adirondack Region) due to poor survival; and
  • Multiple updates to clarify existing regulations.

For a summary of the regulations changes, visit DEC’s website.


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Milton, Vermont Angler Catches Muskie Through Ice

Milton, Vermont Angler Catches Muskie Through Ice

Milton, Vermont Angler Catches Muskie Through Ice

Ryan Carpentier with 32″, 14.1# muskellunge he caught while ice fishing on Lake Champlain on February 12, 2017. Carpentier measured, weighed and successfully released the fish.

When the flag on one of his tip-ups sprang to life on Lake Champlain on a clear February morning, Ryan Carpentier didn’t know what was lurking on the other end.

Just before sunrise about three miles off shore, near Tyler Place in Swanton, Carpentier set up 15 tip-ups, rigging them with 50-pound test, pike minnows and a circle hook with red and blue beads.

Around 8:30 a.m., he got his first and only bite of the day.

“I knew it was one of the biggest fish I had ever caught just by the way it ran,” Carpentier said. “I thought it was huge northern [pike]. It did four or five nasty runs like I’ve never experienced before. It was definitely a fight,” 

After a ten minutes struggle, Carpentier hauled a  38-inch, 14.1-pound muskellunge through the ice with the help of two friends.

After hauling the fish out of the water, the group quickly measured, weighed, photographed the fish and got it back in the water as quickly as possible.

The catch was the first muskellunge Carpentier had ever caught, but it was also one the few successful wintertime muskie catch and releases documented on Lake Champlain in Vermont.

After he released the fish and posted the photos on social media, Vermont Fish & Wildlife fisheries biologist Shawn Good contacted Carpentier.

“What I can tell you is I’ve never heard of a muskie getting caught through the ice in Vermont,” Good said. “It is important to say that because they do get caught through the ice in other states where they’re more abundant.”

Good has headed the department’s muskellunge team since 2008, a group that has spearheaded the muskie restoration movement on Lake Champlain. Lake Champlain’s muskie population was assumed lost between 1970 and 1980, Good said.

In the 1970’s-1980’s the muskie population was depleted and surveys and efforts to find any evidence of muskies in the lake by the Vermont Fish & Wildlife staff came up dry. Wildlife officials speculate the sharp decline was a reaction to poor water quality in the Missisquoi River and Missisquoi Bay after a chemical paper mill spill on the river, a tributary of Lake Champlain.

Good said overfishing did not play a role in the hurting the population, but he stressed the need for anglers to follow Vermont’s strict catch and release muskie policy.

To help revive the population, Good and his team have stocked 5-6″ muskie fingerlings. On average, Good said he stocks between 6,000 and 7,000 summer fingerlings per year. Since the start of the program, Good said he has stocked 50,620 fish in the Missisquoi River and Missisquoi Bay – the last known place where the native population was known to exist.

“We’re trying to return a species that was native to Lake Champlain back to the lake and reestablish its place in the fish community,” Good said. “We stock them in August and they’re hatched in April or May, so they’re four months old. The theory is, the larger they are when you stock them, the higher the probability of them surviving.”

Other states stock muskie at different stages including fry, which are typically 1 inch long, and fall fingerlings, which are about 10 inches. The number of fish stocked is relative to the size of the fish being stocked, Good said.

For instance, stocking muskie fry means that between 80,000 and 100,000 are stocked per year, with the expected survival rate hovering around 10 percent.

While Good noted Carpentier’s catch was uncommon because muskies are elusive, low-density predators he pointed to the instance as a larger sign that the restoration program is having a noticeable impact on the muskie population.

“At some point in the near future, there could be a recreational, targetable population of muskie that can sustain a sport fishery,” Good said. “It’s really encouraging.”

Vt. Fish & Wildlife fisheries biologist Shawn Good confirmed the catch and release of a second muskellunge, between 34-35 inches, through the ice on Lake Champlain less than 10 miles. That fish was caught by Gage Honsinger.


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Lake Champlain Ice Safety

Lake Champlain Ice Safety

Lake Champlain Ice Safety

Skating on Lake Champlain

There are many activities that you can enjoy on Lake Champlain in the winter.  From ice fishing to cross-country skiing, from snowmobiling to skating or kite-boarding – Lake Champlain offers a wealth of outdoor fun to enjoy safely. Here are some simple things to help keep your outing fun and safe.


Important Ice Facts

  • New ice is usually stronger than old ice. Four inches of clear, newly formed ice may support one single person on foot, while a foot or more of old, partially thawed ice might not.
  • Ice rarely freezes uniformly. It might be a foot thick in one place and only an inch or two just a few feet away.
  • Ice formed over flowing water and currents is often dangerous. This is especially true near streams, bridges and culverts. Also, the ice outside river bends is usually weaker due to the undermining effects of the faster current.
  • The insulating effect of snow slows down the freezing process. The extra weight can also cut the amount of weight that the ice sheet can support. Also be aware that the ice near shore can be considerably weaker than ice that is farther out.
  • Booming and cracking ice isn’t necessarily dangerous. It only means that the ice is expanding and contracting as the temperature changes.
  • Schools of fish or flocks of waterfowl can also affect the relative safety of ice. The movement of fish can bring warm water up from the bottom of the lake. In the past, this has opened holes in the ice causing snowmobiles and cars to break through.


Lake Champlain Ice Safety

Ice Thickness Safety Chart (courtesy of the Lake Champlain Committee)

Recommended Minimum Ice Thickness

2″ or less – STAY OFF
4″ – Ice fishing, skiing, skating or other activities on foot
5″ – Snowmobile or ATV
8″ – 12″ – Car or small pickup
12″ – 15″ – Medium truck
Note: These guidelines are for new, clear solid ice.

There are many other factors than thickness that can make ice unsafe.

* White ice or “snow ice” is only about half as strong as new clear ice. Double the above thickness guidelines when traveling on white ice.


The following guidelines can help you make wise choices:

  • Ice Chisel or spud

    Test the thickness yourself using an ice chisel or spud, an ice auger or even a cordless 1/4 inch drill with a long bit.

  • Avoid driving on ice when possible. If you must drive a vehicle, be ready to leave it in a hurry – keep the windows down and have a simple emergency plan of action that you’ve discussed with your passengers.
  • Refrain from alcoholic beverages. Even a couple of beers are enough to cause a careless error in judgment that could cost you your life. And contrary to common belief, alcohol actually makes you colder and doesn’t warm you up.
  • Don’t “overdrive” your snowmobile’s headlight. At 30 miles per hour, it can take a longer distance to stop on ice than your headlight shines. Many fatal snowmobile through-the-ice accidents occur because the machine was traveling too fast for the operator to stop when the headlamp illuminated a hole in the ice.
  • Ice Picks

    Always bring two ice picks and wear them around your neck so that they are within quick reach. The ice picks really help pulling yourself back onto solid ice. It’s amazing how difficult it is to pull yourself back on the surface of wet, slippery ice while you’re wearing a snowmobile suit weighted down with 60 lbs of water.

  • Wear a personal flotation device (PFD) under your winter gear. Or wear one of the new flotation snowmobile suits. Note: Do not wear a PFD when traveling across the ice in an enclosed vehicle.


Now, you’re ready to go. Get out on the ice and enjoy the Lake Champlain ice safely.


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