Try ice fishing on Keuka Lake

Staff reports

PENN YAN – The New York State Department of Environmental Conservation encourages anglers to stay busy all winter by targeting some of their favorite fish species through the ice.

If you've never been ice fishing before and would like to test the waters, get out on the ice of Keuka Lake’s east branch near Penn Yan. The lack of other activities, a limited amount of lake ice so far this year, and the recent prime weather have brought out more ice fishers on Keuka than have been seen in many years.

A lack of widespread lake ice this year has led to a high concentration of ice fishing enthusiasts on Keuka Lake near Penn Yan.

Popular species to target for ice fishing

While most freshwater fish can be caught through the ice, only certain species are in season through the winter. Some popular species to target on Keuka Lake:

• Lake Trout

• Brown Trout

• Rainbow Trout

• Pickerel

• Largemouth Bass

• Smallmouth Bass

• Sunfish

• Yellow Perch

Visit the DEC website for general fishing regulations for specific ice fishing rules, regulations, and catch limits.

Yellow perch are one of the favorite catches for ice fishing in the Finger Lakes.

Ice shanties

Ice shanties must be marked on the outside with the owner's name and address in letters at least three inches high. Shanties must be removed from all waters by March 15 to prevent them from falling through the ice and becoming hazards to navigation.

Baitfish

Baitfish are commonly used when ice fishing. Make sure your baitfish are certified disease-free when you purchase them. Never dump unused baitfish or water from your bait bucket into a lake or pond. Undesirable aquatic invasive species might be mixed in with your bait or bait water. View NYS Baitfish Regulations at https://www.dec.ny.gov/outdoor/47282.html.

Tip-ups and short rods are the preferred equipment.

Ice safety

Safe ice should be your number one consideration when ice fishing. A minimum of three to four inches of solid ice is the general rule for safety. Ice thickness, however, is not uniform on any body of water. The guidelines presented here are based on new, clear ice on non-running waters. Since ice thickness can vary on a lake, check the ice periodically to stay safe.

Many ice anglers do not like to fish on less than five inches of ice, and do not like to drive a pick-up truck on less than 15 inches of ice. Use common sense! Be cautious in areas where "bubblers" are used to protect docks. They can produce thin, unsafe ice some distance away. Be especially alert in areas near shore, over moving bodies of water, and where streams enter and exit lakes and ponds. Remember, use the buddy system while ice fishing -- it saves lives.

Note: This guide is based on new, clear ice on non-running waters. Slush ice is about 50 percent weaker. Clear ice over running water is about 20 percent weaker. Double the recommendations for white ice. Many ice anglers do not like to fish on less than five inches of ice, and do not like to drive a pick-up truck on less than 15 inches of ice. Use common sense!

Information from the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation. Includes reporting by John Christensen

Keuka Lake.