What Kind of Fish Might You Find in Winter?
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.
Ice Fishing Conditions and Locations
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.
Who Needs a Fishing License?
Almost everyone 16 and over must have a license to fish in freshwater. Some New York residents may apply for free licenses. They include the blind, some Native Americans living in New York, resident patients at U.S. Department of Veteran’s Affairs hospitals or state-funded facilities, New York State residents who are active members of the National Guard or U.S. Reserve Forces and New York State residents who are on full time active duty in the U.S. Armed Forces stationed out-of-state, and are in New York for no longer than 30 days.
To qualify for a resident license, you must have a permanent domicile in the state for at least 30 days immediately preceding your application.
Persons fishing on Native American lands, such as the Seneca or Mohawk nations need to purchase a license to fish their respective territories. To find out more information on license cost and issuing agents, call (716) 945-1790 or (716) 532-4900 for Seneca Nation lands (Allegany River, Cattaraugus Creek), and (518) 358-2272 for Mohawk Nation land (St. Regis River).
Where to Get a Fishing License
DEC Regional offices, Town and County clerks, many bait and tackle shops, local sporting goods stores and some State campsites sell licenses, and those that do not can usually direct you to a license agent.
Save time and effort by purchasing licenses online through DEC's Automated Licensing System (DECALS), by phone by calling 1-86-NY-DECALS (1-866-933-2257), or by mailing your payment and completed license application to Verizon, PO Box 36985, Phoenix, AZ 85067 – 6985. Visa and MasterCard accepted. The online purchasing system, license applications and further information are available on the NYS Dept. of Environmental Conservation's website.
Before fishing, Anglers are advised to consult the current regulations guide. A New York State fishing guide booklet, which includes the Great Lakes regulations, will accompany your license when you purchase it. Seasons are listed in the WHEN TO FISH chart. For the most part, the Statewide Regulations apply, but there are significant exceptions.
- Special Great Lakes Regulations apply to the St. Lawrence River because this flow is directly connected to Lake Ontario.
- Also, special bass and muskie regulations are in effect for the county’s small rivers.
- Black Lake, too, has special regulations for its bass as well as walleyes.
- Other exceptions include a number of catch-and-release, artificial-lure-only waters, and there are various waters open to year-round trout fishing.
Please be a law-abiding and ethical angler by consulting and following the regulations listed in the current guide.
To view the regulations online, simply go to - http://www.dec.ny.gov/outdoor/fishing.html.
When Fishing in St. Lawrence County, Please Take 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.
For fishing regulations, please visit the NYS DEC website.
Check Out Our Angler's Guide
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.