Ice Fishing in Winter
Ice Fishing opportunites abound throughout the St. Lawrence County. For the most part, anglers will find safe ice from December through March. Although the fishing remains steady all winter, the very best action occurs at first-ice and last-ice. Regulations allow anglers to use five tip-ups and two handlines.
Northern pike are the most popular winter gamefish. Anglers target them by suspending live minnows below tip-ups. All of the St. Lawrence River bays from Chippewa to Massena offer good pike fishing as do the bays and weedbeds at Black Lake. Other good bets for icing pike are Grass, Pleasant, Yellow, and Cranberry lakes. Since pike populations can be subject to over fishing, anglers are encouraged to practice selective harvest.
Walleyes are also a possibility during the winter. Again, the St. Lawrence River and Black Lake rank as the best spots, but walleyes are also available in Pleasant and Grass lakes as well as in the Oswegatchie and Grasse rivers.
Jigging is the primary technique for winter panfish, and preferred tippings include small minnows or grubs. Black Lake is especially popular among panfishers who target crappies, perch, bluegills, and pumpkinseeds. The St. Lawrence has quality perch fishing, and some bays have crappies. Lake Ozonia and Yellow Lake, too, yield panfish during winter.
Three lakes are open to year-round trout fishing, and they are Trout Lake, Star Lake, and Lake Ozonia. Trout Lake contains lake trout and rainbows while Star Lake has rainbows. Lake Ozonia has brown trout, rainbow trout, and splake. In addition, Ozonia offers landlocked opportunities. Anglers who use live minnows have the best results.
In a typical North Country winter the ice fishing season is a long one. Often ice conditions permit December fishing and in most years the season continues well beyond the end of northern pike and walleye season on March 15th. Of utmost importance to the ice angler is condition of the ice. When deciding if ice is safe, it is always best to err on the side of caution. Always test the ice before setting forth. It is also a good idea to talk to the local people about areas that traditionally have thin ice conditions due to springs or moving water, i.e. the mouth of a tributary.
The mainstay of ice fishing in Northern New York are panfish, yellow perch, walleye and northern pike. A good place to fish for these species is where you see others already fishing or where they have fished. Some opportunities for catching other species does exist including a few waters where anglers are allowed to take trout and salmon through the ice. To be sure what species are open for ice fishing, size restrictions and bag limits, be sure to check the fishing regulation guide and look at the special regulation section.
Fishing Note: When fishing on the St. Regis Mohawk Territory, all New York State Fishing regulations now apply. The Tribe recently adopted the State's regulations for an interim period, until specific regulations for tribal lands can be worked out. These regulations apply to all non-tribal members seeking to fish in Akwesasne's waters. They do not limit the inherent right of tribal members to fish on the reservation so long as their activities are consistent with applicable tribal law.
Be sure to check out our website www.fishcap.net for all the information on fishing in St. Lawrence County.
For fishing regulations, please visit the NYS DEC website.
Year Round Fishing
The St. Lawrence County Angler’s Guide is a 30-page booklet listings species that can be found in the major rivers, ponds and lakes. To receive a copy of this free guide by mail, click here, and fill out the form. Note: the Angler's Guide will be replaced with a Fish, Hunt & Ride Guide for 2018.
Wherever you are in St. Lawrence County, great fishing is only minutes away. From the foothills of the Adirondacks to the St. Lawrence River, the County offers fishing opportunities for everyone. Hundreds of rivers, lakes, reservoirs, and streams offer peaceful surroundings, a variety of species, strong fish populations, and good public access. Tournaments are held throughout the year including some cool ice fishing derbies.
St. Lawrence is truly a "county for all seasons" and a "county for all anglers." Consider the possibilities: downrigging for muskies at Massena, ice fishing for yellow perch and northern pike at Chippewa Bay, jigging for walleyes on the Raquette River reservoirs, canoeing for smallmouth bass on the Grasse River, flyfishing for brown trout on the St. Regis River, small boating for lake trout at Trout Lake and rainbows at Star Lake, trolling for trophy brook trout at Cranberry Lake, jigging for black crappies and casting for largemouth bass at Black Lake, and hiking the wilderness for native brook trout swims, or casting that 12 foot pole to fight with the mighty carp.