Tag Archives: Ice fishing

A Last Hurrah for Winter Adventures

As March rolls around, winter season is indeed melting away. Soon, the snow blanketing everything in sight that previously transformed the ground into a wondrous, pristine white, will retreat to give way to the flourishing green of trees, various vegetation, and the cheerful movement of wildlife. But before we say our final goodbye to winter season, here’s a last hurrah for winter adventures that we’re sure you’ll enjoy.

Cross-country Skiing

cross country ski

Miles of icy, snowy open terrain are ready to be explored while cross-country skiing. [Image: http://spgweekends.com/]

Cross-country skiing is one of the more popular winter sports in the country. It’s a form of skiing that utilizes one’s own locomotion to move across snow-covered terrain. Fun fact: Did you know that this form of skiing was actually first practiced around 600 BCE in China? Incredible how far it has gone since then!

While it’s now generally practiced for fun, some still use it for transportation, just as it was originally utilized. It’s now generally considered a popular recreational activity for individuals and groups who want to explore the snow-laden country with friends and family.

Ice Fishing

ice fishing

Ice fishing in the middle of a frozen lake. [Image: www.adventure.howstuffworks.com/]

Ice fishing can be a fun activity to do during the winter. Many local wildlife and park departments even offer free fishing activities for their visitors to participate in. While ice fishing requires some skill and knowledge, pretty much anyone can enjoy this sport with some research and guidance beforehand.

This sport requires only a couple of key pieces of equipment: Lines and fish hooks or spears. With the weather heading on to the milder March where spring will soon step in to take the chill away, now is the perfect time to go ice fishing on a frozen body of water. As a precaution to protect oneself from frostbite, dress comfortably with layers (heavy shirt, pants, socks, and a wool or fleece sweater). Research some cold survival tips before going out to stay safe and warm while outdoors.

Ice Skating

ice skating

The ice skating rink in Rockefeller Center, New York is a seasonal landmark during the winter season. [Image: www.indiatimes.com/]

Ice skating is a popular sport for all ages—who doesn’t love the thrill of being on ice? Challenging one’s balance and coordination, it’s one of the oldest winter recreational sports. It’s particularly popular among children, which makes it a great family activity.

Snowboarding

snowboarding

A snowboarder showing off some moves. [Image: www.snowbrains.com/]

Snowboarding is another activity that can be done during winter. The sport originated as a game created by an engineer in Michigan, which later transformed into an actual sport. It was originally called “snurfer” (snow + surfer), and since then, it has grown and has been a winter sport in the Olympics since 1998. This activity is popular with everyone from beginners to seasoned pros.

Snowmobiling

snowmobiling

A snowmobile tour group. [Image: www.michigan.org/]

Snowmobiling is a fun activity that you can do solo or with a group. Depending on the vehicle, it can hold up to two people, which is perfect for group adventures across winter’s shining white terrain. And if you find that you’re good enough, you might want to head over to your local park for a snowmobiling competition.

If you’re interested in finding which state parks are the best venues for these winter sports, head on over to our Pocket Ranger® state park apps, but do it quickly because it’s getting warm out there. Using our explore feature, you’ll have this information at your fingertips in no time. Happy winter adventuring!

Winter Never Gets Old in the Enchanted Mountains of Western NY!

Contributed by Cattaraugus County Tourism

People walking on snow at Cattaraugus County

Image: Cattaraugus County Tourism

Do you tire of winter before it even begins? Or how about just after the holidays? Think that there is nothing to do when it’s cold outside besides sit under a blanket and try to keep warm? That’s not what we think here in Cattaraugus County, the Enchanted Mountains of Western NY. We have many reasons to love winter and all four seasons of the year. We are in the top of the list for counties who receive the maximum snowfall in NY state. It’s no wonder we know how to have fun in the snow! How does cascading over the snow on a trail-dominating snowmobile sound? Or exploring the back woods? Or breaking your own trails on snowshoes? You can do all that right here and will soon be warming up to winter as well!

December is here, and that means snow can happen at any time! The trails open up right after hunting season ends (December 22), the week before Christmas vacation. Plan ahead to enjoy the upcoming season of fun by calling for a FREE snowmobile map. Our trails will take you through deep woods freshly covered with snow, around small towns with businesses that welcome snowmobilers, and sometimes even over a frozen lake! The map will guide you throughout our miles and miles of trails (almost 400!) in our county and into the neighboring counties as well. You won’t have to worry about getting lost! And if you don’t feel like traveling far, our trails offer more than enough dashing through the snow. The number to call for the map is 1-800-331-0543.

Trail of people on snow mobiles at Cattaraugus County

Image: Cattaraugus County Tourism

If you don’t have a snowmobile, we can recommend where you can rent one—even ones that will be delivered right to where you are staying. We can also recommend places for you to stay right off the snowmobile trails. Allegany State Park has winterized cabins that range from rustic to high-end cottages that include all the amenities of home besides food. You can spend the day out riding in the snow and then come back to a comfy cabin warmed just to the temperature you like. If you have a large family or your snowmobiling club wants to vacation together, try one of the newly restored group camps at Allegany State Park. The cabins are all located together with plenty of bathroom space (handicap accessible also) and a large kitchen/dining area so you can all have meals together.

Prefer the slower paced enjoyment of the wintry outdoors instead of riding snowmobiles? You can take up snowshoeing or cross-country skiing. We have plenty of places for that as well! Allegany State Park has a large trail system for cross-country skiing: the Art Roscoe Trail System. It’s almost 25-miles worth of loops, giving you opportunities ranging from a casual walk to an all-out workout. You can rent skis right across from the system at the Summit Warming Hut. Snowshoes are not permitted on this trail system, but are allowed anywhere else in the park. Find your favorite summer hiking trail and attempt it in the winter. Compare the differences of the seasons and add even more memories to your favorite hikes. You can also cross-country ski at Holiday Valley, known for its downhill skiing. Cruise the ridgelines at the top of the mountain or circle around the golf course down below—both offer spectacular views. They also rent out cross-country skis if you are in need.

Pfeiffer Nature Center has miles of trails just waiting to be explored. The trails are well-groomed and kept clean all winter long. They have rentals, but the number is limited so call ahead. There are two properties of Pfeiffer Nature Center: the Lillibridge Property and the Eshelman Property. The Lillibridge Property will take you through an old growth forest with red and white oaks estimated to be around 150 years old. Thorton Thruway leads you to the southern border of the property where you can see one of the oldest Black Gum trees in the East, which is more than 500 years old! The Eshelman Property offers hikes of shorter distances, going along a creek then up a hill for a great view of the valley, before meandering by the meadow. It’s a great place to see animals!

Of course we also have ice skating, ice fishing, and plenty of indoor options for you as well, which can be discovered on EnchantedMountains.com, including upcoming events! No matter what you decide to do in the Enchanted Mountains during winter, you will find yourself shouting, “Let it snow!”

People riding snow mobiles banner from Pocket Ranger app

Go Ice Fishing in Oswego County This February!

A man in flannel ice fishing [Image Credit: Oswego County Tourism]

Image Credit: Oswego County Tourism

The lakes are frozen, the fish are biting, and there’s no better place to be than out on the ice this February! On February 15th, grab your friends, pack up your ice fishing gear and head to Oneida Lake for the NYS Ice Pro-Am Team Tournament sponsored by Oswego County Division of Promotion and Tourism. With high stakes and only 100 teams allowed to participate, you don’t want to miss out on this tournament!

An angler holds up two fish caught while ice fishing [Image Credit: Oswego County Tourism]

Image Credit: Oswego County Tourism

This upcoming NYS Ice Pro-Am Team Tournament is part of a series of ice fishing tournaments happening in New York. These tournaments set up shop at the best fishing holes, and with its capacity for harboring lunkers, we know that Oneida Lake will not disappoint! Besides the allure of trophies and prize packages (some that include ATVs!), the NYS Ice Pro-Am Team Tournament on February15th will be a great time to catch up with old friends and make some new ones, too.

Little girl holds large fish [Image Credit: Oswego County Tourism]

Image Credit: Oswego County Tourism

Oswego County Division of Promotion and Tourism is a proud sponsor of the New York Pocket Ranger® Apps. While you’re out on the ice, check out the advanced GPS mapping features on the New York State Pocket Ranger® App and the Official New York Fish & Wildlife Pocket Ranger® App. The GPS mapping technology on our apps allows you to cache maps for offline use, something that definitely comes in handy when you’re miles out in the middle of Oneida Lake!

Meeting up with your buddies on the ice? With the Pocket Ranger® app, easily mark waypoints and email to friends or share on Facebook, so they’ll know just where to find you. Or, if you’ve discovered a new, secret fishing spot and want to keep it under your hat, mark a waypoint so only you can remember just where it is.

An angler holds up the day's catch on the ice [Image Credit: Oswego County Tourism]

Image Credit: Oswego County Tourism

From perch to bluegills, tiger muskies to walleyes, Oneida Lake has plenty of gamefish and panfish to keep you busy. While you’re jigging, use the Official New York Fish & Wildlife Pocket Ranger® App to identify fish species and check rules and regulations for catch limits and size requirements. During the tournament, the largest fish caught of each species will be displayed in a 180-gallon custom tank.

Man in camo ice fishes [Image Credit: Oswego County Tourism]

Image Credit: Oswego County Tourism

Keep in mind ice safety when out fishing. To safely fish this February, ice should have a minimum thickness of four inches. Avoid areas near docks, since thinner ice can often be found there. Stick to clear or blue-colored ice, which is high in density and very strong, perfect for ice fishing. In case of emergency, all of our Pocket Ranger® apps are equipped with an easy-to-use Alert Me feature that supplies a user’s GPS coordinates to designated contacts.

Man holds up large bass caught while ice fishing in NY [Image Credit: Oswego County Tourism]

Image Credit: Oswego County Tourism

And what’s a day spent out on the ice without a little snowmobiling? Oswego County is home to 400 miles of groomed snowmobiling trails! For information about conditions, call 1-800-248-4FUN (4386). Take a break from jigging, grab your helmet and hit the trails for a bit!

Wishing everyone at the NYS Ice Pro-Am Team Tournament good luck & tight lines!

How to Beat Cabin Fever

Short days, long nights, cold temperatures: This time of year, it may seem easier to just stay indoors and watch TV marathons. We totally get it. But stay indoors for too long, and you’re bound to experience some cabin fever. So find your hat and mittens, pull on your snow boots because we’ve come up with 10 great ways to beat cabin fever and get outdoors!

  1. Make Art


Don’t limit yourself to building snowmen this winter. Use British sculptor Andy Goldsworthy as inspiration; make beautiful yet transient works of art with the nature-made materials that surround you. Goldsworthy uses rocks, ice, leaves, and twigs to create incredibly balanced, outdoor artwork. With a little patience, you can, too!

  1. Make War

Got snow? Beat cabin fever by getting together with family and friends, build multiple fortifications, arm yourselves with an arsenal of snowballs, and let ‘em rip! Seattle, Washington holds the Guinness World Record for the largest snowball fight. On January 12, 2013, 5,834 people gathered in Seattle to take part in the world’s largest snowball fight to date!

  1. Scout

Tracks of bird wings in the snow

Even birds make tracks in the winter. [Image: www.oldnaturalist.com]

Winter creates a whole new landscape, and with that new opportunities to scout for wildlife. Test your tracking skills, and look for signs of wildlife, such as tracks, scat, and nests. If you’re looking to go with a group, some state parks offer guided nature walks. Check out the Events Calendar found in our Pocket Ranger® apps to find nature hikes near you, and use the Photo Waypoint feature to identify and capture your wildlife discoveries. Share your wildlife finds on the free Trophy Case® app!

  1. Skate

Break out the skates, and bid adieu to your cabin fever! You may be a bit rusty that first go-round the rink, but ice skating is something that you can easily pick up. If it’s your first time on the ice, take a skating lesson to get a grip on the basics. Or if you’re ready for some action, get together a pick-up hockey game or test your figure skating skills.

  1. Feed the Birds

Birds have it pretty tough in the winter. Help them out by supplying bird feeders in your backyard. Most birds that winter in colder areas of the country need to eat seeds, such as black oil sunflower seeds, nyger, suet, and white millet. And don’t forget the water! Unfrozen water in wintertime can be a godsend for thirsty birds. Share your bird sightings with a likeminded community through our new, free Bird Feed app.

  1. Get Moving

Girl and dog hike in the snowy woods in Vermont getting rid of cabin fever

Don’t forget to bring along Fido! Pets get stir crazy in the wintertime, too. [Image: Thomas DeSisto]

Being active in cold temperatures does your body a world of good. Getting your heart pumping will boost the level of virus-killing cells in your bloodstream, keeping seasonal colds and flus at bay. Doing physical activity in colder temperatures also makes bodies use more energy to keep warm. This translates to burning a whole lot more fat, something we’re all anxious to do post-holidays! There are plenty of ways to stay active outdoors this winter. Hit the slopes and go downhill skiing, snowboarding, or tubing/sledding. Cross-country skiing, snowshoeing, and winter hiking is a great way to get into the quieter, more remote areas of wilderness. Or, if you’re looking for a new thrill, try your hand at dog mushing or skijoring!

  1. Fish On

Man holds large 29" chain pickerel fish after a day of ice fishing.

Beat the winter blues by spending the day out on the ice! [Image: Jared McGrath]

Bundle up and get out on the ice for a day of ice fishing. While it can be nice to spend some serene hours alone on the lake, ice fishing is most often a social opportunity. Connect with others, catch some fish, and then cook a few up while sharing some warm drinks at a friend’s bobhouse. In mid-winter, ice is often thick enough for snowmobiling. To break up the day, jump on your sled and do a few laps!

  1. Fire It Up

Bonfire? Barbeque? Campfire? Pay no attention to the thermometer and head outdoors to grill up your summer favorites. Invite over friends and family to enjoy a grilled dinner while basking in the warm glow of the campfire. You’ll feel so warm, you might even think it’s the spring and you can kiss that cabin fever goodbye! Remember to pass out the marshmallow sticks for the dessert course, so everyone can make themselves a s’more.

  1. Get Climbing

Ice climbing, that is. Dangerous? A bit. Exciting? Definitely, and it will get you to shake off that cabin fever! Whether it’s scaling a glacier or ascending a frozen waterfall pickaxe in hand, with the right equipment and enough courage, ice climbing lets you see winter from a whole new perspective. Alaska, New Hampshire, Colorado, and Montana have some of the best ice climbing to be had in the U.S.

  1. Polar Plunge


For when you have a really bad case of cabin fever, shock your system back with a polar plunge into a freezing body of water! Dare yourself and a few friends or join an organization that is taking the polar plunge to raise money for a good cause. After all, you only live once!

Breaking the Ice: A Beginner’s Guide to Ice Fishing

The beauty of ice fishing, aside from the magical prospect of sitting on top of frozen water, is that you can fish on any part of the lake (provided you have ample ice). For those without boats, it might be that one chance to venture out over deeper waters in search of a lunker. In North America, ice fishing is often done from inside a small portable shelter known as a fishing shanty. The benefit of a shanty is that it allows you to stay warm as well as beat inclement weather. Ice fishing is also a great way to spend a day with friends and family—provided everybody can stay warm. While a few anglers are confident on 2.5 inches of solid ice, 4 inches is considered safe for walking. For snowmobiles and other light craft, 5-7 inches is recommended.

Ice fishing shanty [image: www.blog.syracuse.com]

Ice fishing shanty [Image: www.blog.syracuse.com]

Safety Ice safety is your number one concern. Our very own ice safety primer can be found here. As always, use good judgment when walking out onto the ice. Avoid areas with running water such as dams, spillways and streams flowing into or out of lakes. Keep in mind that slush ice is 50 percent weaker than clear ice and ice over running water is 20 percent weaker. Also, take a buddy fishing with you—it’s more fun and it could save a life.

image: www.dnr.state.oh.us

Image: www.dnr.state.oh.us

Gear The fish might be biting but without warm clothes or a way to cut a hole in the ice, you won’t be catching a thing. Warm ski pants or coveralls are the best way to go. Another essential item is a stool because it keeps you elevated and off the ice. Creating a hole in the ice can be done a number of ways, but the most efficient (if also the most cumbersome) is by augur. An ice augur is large gas or manually operated drill that can easily burrow through a foot or more of ice. If you don’t own an augur, an axe or ice saw will do the trick. Another technique, if a little sneaky, is to locate holes made by pervious fishermen where the ice isn’t as thick. These can be broken through with a small hand axe or chisel known as a spud.

Hand augur [image: wikipedia.com]

Hand augur [Image: wikipedia.com]

Technique Tips-up and jigging are the two most common forms of ice fishing. Jigging is done with a small, lightweight spinning rod, using brightly colored lures or jigs that are often “sweetened” with a piece of bait, such as a wax worm or minnow. Once you’ve reached the depth you think the fish are at, lift the rod every now and again to produce the effect known as jigging. Tip-ups are specialized ice fishing devices made of wood or plastic that allow anglers to fish multiple locations and depths at once. When a fish takes the bait, a flag is released, notifying the angler. The fish is then pulled in by hand or reel depending on your setup.

image: www.lakemichiganangler.com

Image: www.lakemichiganangler.com

Location Settling on a location depends on the species of fish you’re after. Shallow ponds and lakes are best for bass, panfish, chain pickerel and northern pike. For trout, landlocked salmon and cusk, you’ll want to fish in a deep-water lake. However, even though trout and salmon prefer deep water, it doesn’t mean you’ll find them there in the winter. Trout and salmon prefer deep water because it allows them to stay cool in the summer months. During winter months, it is not uncommon to find these fish just below the ice. Remember, if you’re after bigger fish, make sure to drill your hole big enough (8-12 inches) to land it. Lastly, don’t forget to pack a hot beverage to sip while you contemplate the unique position of standing on top of 40 or more feet of ice water.

image: wikipedia.com