By Alicia Dziak
Looking for another way to enjoy the outdoors this time of year? Try ice fishing at Allegany State Park (ASP)!
While ice fishing requires skill and knowledge, anyone can ice fish successfully if they learn about the water to be fished and the equipment, and go prepared with proper clothing and safety knowledge.
Joining an experienced friend on your initial ice fishing adventure is recommended, but if that’s just not possible, another option is to visit a tackle shop in a popular ice fishing area, which can provide you with all of the necessary equipment. Or check out ice fishing contests run by local sportsmen’s clubs and see what information you can dig up.
ASP offers ice fishing on its two large lakes — Red House and Quaker, and March often provides some of the season’s most productive ice fishing days.
A variety of fish can be caught in each lake. Red House Lake, covering 110 acres, offers bluegill, pumpkinseed, black crappie and trout, while the 268-acre Quaker Lake has bluegill, pumpkinseed and northern pike. More information, including maps, can be found at www.dec.ny.gov/outdoor/50444.html.
“Popularity (of ice fishing) appears to be growing in the last decade,” explained Darrin Bierfeldt, forester at ASP. “Currently, it is common to see people ice fishing on both lakes every day of the week, with weekends showing the largest number of enthusiasts.”
While ice fishing can be a unique and rewarding experience, newbies and seasoned anglers alike need to go into it prepared.
Since most anglers will be sitting still in the cold, dressing warmly and in layers is a necessity.
When arriving at the park, safe ice is the number one consideration. A minimum of 3–4 inches of solid ice is the general rule for safety, keeping in mind that ice thickness is not uniform on any body of water.
A number of safety guidelines and important information is available on the DEC’s website, and includes strategies for getting through the ice and various ice fishing methods.
According to Bierfeldt, ice fishing at ASP is a draw because of “the wilderness experience and the peace and quiet it has to offer.”
Why not enjoy this fun sport in one of Western New York’s most beautiful places?
For more information, visit www.dec.ny.gov/outdoor/7733.html.