Brian Hammond, a long-time resident on the shore of Oneida Lake, is wanting ahead once more this winter to the ice fishing season and has lately assembled his in depth array of drugs in his storage.

Yeah, Ive put a few hours on this lake, stated Hammond, 58, of Cicero, who owns B.Hammer Tackle, a lure enterprise specializing in casting worm harnesses. Over the years, he has given open water fishing seminars at native sports activities reveals, together with ice fishing seminars at Gander Mountain (now Gander Outdoors) to not point out having participated in numerous walleye and ice fishing tournaments.

Brian Hammond, of Cicero, landed this spectacular walleye fishing final 12 months ice fishing on Oneida Lake. He wrote: “Caught on the north shore on a #5 Jigging Rap.”

With the ice fishing season about to start quickly and the coronavirus persevering with to surge in areas of Upstate New York, this winter ought to see a rise in the variety of people desirous to get open air to get pleasure from this winter exercise, stated Hammond and others.

The sport does require some upfront expenditures for tools such objects as an auger to drill holes via the ice, specialised fishing sort out and lures and heat clothes. And for prolonged stays on the ice, there are transportable ice shanties and small, propane heaters.

For many, the very best wager could be to exit with an ice fishing veteran who can present you the ropes, is aware of all the security precautions and has all of the stuff. For these ranging from scratch, such anglers needs to be conscious that this time of 12 months and significantly in the course of the pandemic there has already been a run on ice fishing tools purchases and some shops might have a scarcity of sure objects.

That stated, we requested Hammond to stipulate some basics for novice ice anglers: particularly, find out how to get pleasure from ones time on the ice safely and productively. The following are excerpts from the interview.

What type of fish are often focused by ice anglers?

They embrace sunfish and yellow perch, walleye, northern pike, tiger muskie, brown trout, black crappie, lake trout and Atlantic salmon.

Upstate NY ice fishing

An ice angler’s bucket of sunfish (bluegills and pumpkinseeds) — all caught on Oneida Lake.Mike Greenlar

Do you want a fishing license?

Yes, you want a fishing license. Before going out, be sure you assessment the DEC fishing rules for every fish species and the quantity and dimension of a fish you could legally hold per day. Such guidelines can range, relying on the physique of water one is fishing on. Failure to have a license or to observe the catch guidelines may result in a ticket from a DEC conservation officer.

Upstate NY ice fishing

Last winter, Mike McNamara, of Broadalbin, N,Y. wrote: This is my son, MJ. Just him and I had been fishing (on Great Sacandaga Lake) and the catch (a 44-inch northern pike) was a crew effort. We had a good studying expertise as we caught it, photographed it and launched it to combat one other day.”

Talk about safe ice how does the novice tell whether theyre going out ice that will safely support them?

Right now, youre looking at early ice a time where you have to be especially careful. You have to check conditions more frequently. The rule of thumb is that to be safe, the ice thickness should be 4 inches or thicker. Anything else, its not worth the risk. And by risking your life, youre putting others who may have to come rescue you at risk as well. Check the ice slowly as you go out for consistency and integrity. I recommend using a spud (a heavy metal rod with a chisel-like point) to pound on the ice as you go out to see how thick and strong the ice is. A good idea for beginners is to take note where others went out and came back on the ice and to stick to their well-worn path.

Upstate NY ice fishing

Note the spud (the red iron bar) on the right side of the picture. The spud is used to pound on the ice to check its depth and integrity.

Be especially alert in areas near shore, over moving bodies of water, and where streams enter and exit lakes and ponds.

Finally, dont go out alone. Have someone with you in case an accident happens. Also, let a family member or friend know where youre going, how long you expect to stay out and when youre coming back.

Any other safety tips?

Many ice anglers wear a pair of wooden or plastic dowels with spikes attached by a string around the neck and/or threaded through the arms of their jacket should they fall through the ice. The spiked dowels can be held in your hands and used to get a hold on the ice to pull yourself out if you fall in. Other things include wearing a small, not-too bulky life preserver. Some winter jackets have them built right into the coat.

Its also a good idea is to bring out something with you that floats and that can be thrown to someone or attached to a rope and tossed to a person should they go through the ice.

Upstate NY ice fishing

As an extra safety precaution for emergencies, Brian Hammond has the rope that pulls his ice fishing sled attached to two, metal carabiners that can be detached from his sled and attached to a floating boat cushion. The cushion can then be tossed to another angler who falls through the ice.

I take an extra precaution with my plastic sleds that I use to pull out my shanties. I always bring a boat cushion or something that floats. And rather than tie both ends of a rope to the sled, Ive put in two metal rings in the holes where the rope would be tied off. I have then clipped easy-to-detach, metal carabiners to both metal rings and then tied both ends of a rope (about 15 feet in length) to the carabiners. If needed, I can quickly detach my rope that pulls my sled, attach one end to something that floats (the boat cushion) and toss it to someone who has gone through the ice.

Talk about proper clothing

I like to layer my clothes. Im careful not to over-dress. You dont want to over-heat on the way out if youre walking. If youre driving out in an ATV or a snowmobile, you may want to leave everything on when youre going out or coming back and maybe stripping down a little when you arrive or go into your shanty. As for gloves, Im a big fan of woolen, finger-less gloves with a flap that fold back over your fingertips. And Ill also bring along some of those chemical- activated heating packets that you can put in a pocket or in your gloves to help keep your hands warm. Good, warm, water-proof boots with pull-out liners are good. And depending on the conditions, its always a good idea to have cleats that fit over and on the bottom of your boots to prevent yourself from slipping and falling on the ice.

Upstate NY ice fishing

An ice angler uses a hand auger to cut a new hole while ice fishing on Otisco Lake in Marietta, N.Y.

Drilling holes through the ice to fish through

There are an assortment of regular, hand- powered augers one can buy to make holes in the ice with diameters varying from 4 to 6 inches. I used to use a gas-powered auger, but currently Im a big fan of my electric, lithium battery- powered electric drill thats attached to the bottom half of an auger. Theres a special bit you can buy for this. In my opinion, you cant beat it.

And dont forget to bring a ladle that you use to clear the chips and chunks of ice out of the hole you drill while youre fishing.

Upstate NY ice fishing

Brian Hammond’s ice fishing auger that’s powered by an electric drill.

Fishing sort out

Depends on what youre targeting. For panfish, I use small, sensitive spinning rods and reels, say 24-28 inches, with not a lot of line. I like rods that are little bit stiffer and with more backing for larger fish, like walleyes. Normally, you dont need a big spool of line with what youre going to get into. I usually use 6-8 pound line (usually braid) , with about a 4- to 6-pound fluorocarbon leader.

There are pros and cons to using tip-ups. Theyre good when youve located and targeted a fish population, but they can lock you into a spot because of the time it takes to set them up. Some times I find theyre very productive. Other times, I like getting into search mode and fishing with a rod in hand.

Upstate NY ice fishing

Ice angler Brian Hammond lays out some of his favorite ice fishing lures: L-R, I tungsten, fluorescent micro-dot jig; a moonshire Jigging Rap; two different Jigging Raps; a Slender Spoon and a Jigging Rap. He uses them to catch walleyes and perch, he said.

Live bait, versus lures/plastics

There is a time and place for both. Most of the time, fish tend to be finicky and live bait (fathead minnows, emerald shiners, spikes, waxies) works well. If youre getting a lot of action with mostly little fish, though, you can go through a lot of live bait quickly before catching any of keeper size. In those situations, I like to use plastics and lures, which will last a lot longer.

I always have poles rigged up with inline Kastmaster and jigging raps for walleye and other bigger fish. Im also a big fan of perch (and panfish) fishing. Micro-tungsten dots tipped with spikes and that glow work well.

Upstate NY ice fishing

Brian Hammond uses a Lorance fish finder to determine whether there is fish underneath him while ice fishing. The transducer from the fish finder is attached by a wire. The transducer is placed in the hole. It goes down just so far thanks to the white float on the wire.

How do you know if fish are underneath where youre fishing?

You have old- school and new- school anglers. I have some old-school buddies who will drop some live bait down through the hole and attach a small bobber to the line, which will go under when they get a bite. I personally wont fish without a fish finder. I dont want to waste time fishing an area where Im not getting bit. The technology is changing to the point where people can expect to catch fish (if youre doing all the right things). You can have banner days, but not always. Its fishing.

Using underwater cameras are the next level. They help you see which way fish are coming from, what fish do and where and how they bite. Theyre great for kids because theyll stay glued to them. Theyre a great training tool.

Talk about creature comforts particularly ice shanties, portable propane heaters and stuff to eat and drink

These are the things that make ice fishing more comfortable and enables you stay out longer. You have things like ice shanties that are insulated and comfortable, and portable Mr. Buddy propane heaters keep things warm and toasty inside.

Upstate NY ice fishing

A small, portable propane heater can make the inside of an ice shanty warm and toasty.

I have five different shanties. I particularly like my one-man shanty, where you dont have to collapse the poles to set it up. You can move it around quickly. You just pull (the upper part) over your head and youre ready to go.

Upstate NY ice fishing

In this file photo, an ice angler settles into his ice shanty while ice fishing on Otisco Lake. If he wishes, he can pull down the front and close it completely to the outside elements.

As for food and drink, I usually bring a thermos of coffee or hot tea. Its always good to drink something warm to prolong your stay out on the ice. I also bring along soda or water, a beef stick, snacks, granola bars, sunflower seeds, etc.. I put my food in a Ziploc bag so I can put them away when Im done and take them out next time I go out.

And you eat what you catch?

Yes, sir. Its the best time of the year. The meat is firm and fresh and its a great reward for having a great experience.

Upstate NY ice fishing

Brian Hammond with a beefy yellow perch he caught through the ice on Oneida Lake.


NY angler lands monster northern pike on Super Bowl Sunday (video)

Upstate NY ice fisherman tells why it took 10 months to confirm he tied state pumpkinseed record (video)

Big fish caught by Upstate NY ice anglers in 2019 (reader photographs)