NEW YORK (WWTI) — With the arrival of winter in New York, anglers are preparing to head to the ice.

In preparation for the ice fishing season, New York State Department of Environmental Conservation Commissioner Basil Seggos is encouraging more new and experienced anglers to get outdoors.

“With proper preparedness and safe ice, anyone can enjoy the state’s abundant ice fishing opportunities,” Commissioner Seggos said in a press release. “Many fish species are still quite active during the hard water season, including perch, sunfish, lake trout, and northern pike, leaving something for every type of angler to get out on the ice.”

However, the DEC is also emphasizing safety during the ice fishing season, by urging anglers to ensure the ice is thick enough before venturing out.

According to officials, four inches of solid clear ice is usually safe for anglers accessing ice on foot. Thickness can vary on waterbodies and even on the same waterbody.

Ice fishermen should be particularly cautious of areas of moving water and around boat docks and houses where bubblers may be installed. The DEC stated that ice can easily be tested with an auger or spud bar at various spots. Anglers are also urged to fish with a family member or friend for increased safety.

This winter the DEC will host a free fishing weekend across this state. This event will be held on February 19 and February 20, 2022, and will allow anglers to fish without a license.

With the exception of free fishing days, anglers are also required to have valid fishing licenses before heading out on the ice. Fishing licenses are valid for one year from the date of purchase.

More ice fishing tips in freshwater bodies can be found on the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation website.