NEW YORK (WWTI) — New York State DEC is urging anyone heading out to the water for fishing to be extra cautious due to unsafe ice conditions.

DEC said the unsafe conditions are due to a milder than usual winter across the state and offered the following tips to stay safe if heading out for the hard water season:

  • Four inches of solid, clear ice is a safe thickness if venturing out on foot. Be sure to periodically check the thickness as you move further out.
  • Avoid ice near open water or around docks. Dock owners often use bubblers to prevent thick ice from forming and damaging them.
  • Carry ice safety picks. They can help you pull yourself out of the water should you break through the ice. Store-bought or homemade work just fine.
  • Let someone know where you’re going to fish and when you plan on returning.

While most freshwater fish can be caught through the ice, only certain species are in season through the winter, according to DEC’s website.

Some popular species to target through the ice in New York include:

  • Yellow Perch,
  • Northern Pike,
  • Walleye,
  • Lake Trout,
  • Brown Trout,
  • Atlantic Salmon, and
  • Black Crappie.

Anyone partaking in the fishing season should also be advised of the regulations for ice fishing in New York Sate.

Ice shanties must be marked on the outside with the owner’s name and address in letters at least 3 inches high, according to DEC. Shanties must be removed from all waters by March 15 to prevent them from falling through the ice and becoming hazards to navigation.

Make sure your baitfish are certified disease free when you purchase them, according to DEC. 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.

Places to fish in each region of New York State and more ice fishing guidance is available on DEC’s website.