February’s Free Fishing Weekend is a great opportunity to try ice fishing for the first time, or, for experienced anglers, to introduce their friends to ice fishing. No fishing license is required during the weekend. Four inches of solid clear ice is usually safe for anglers accessing ice on foot. However, note that ice thickness can vary on waterbodies and even within the same waterbody. Anglers should be particularly cautious of areas of moving water and around boat docks and houses, where bubblers may be installed to reduce ice from forming.
Fishing events during February include:
NYS Parks and DEC Free Fishing Clinic - Glimmerglass State Park
Otsego Lake (Town of Springfield, Otsego County) - Feb. 19, 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. Pre-registration is appreciated, but not required. A warming area and refreshments will be available. DEC will supply bait and tackle, but experienced anglers are encouraged to bring their own fishing gear. There will be a short lesson on the basics of ice fishing and filleting your catch, and staff will be on hand throughout the day to assist participants on the ice. Participants can contact State Parks at 607-547-8662 to make sure ice conditions are adequate and to pre-register.
Winter Festival and Ice Fishing Clinic
Lawson Lake County Park (Town of New Scotland, Albany County) – Feb. 22, 10 a.m. to 3 p.m., 293 Lawson Lake Road, Feura Bush. All activities are free and include ice fishing, snowmobiling, snowshoe hikes, ice skating, and a campfire with s’mores and hot chocolate. Cross-country skis and snowshoes will be available for visitor use free of charge. Participants can contact Albany County at 518-768-2560 to ensure ice conditions are adequate. However, no pre-registration is required, and the festival will still be held regardless of ice conditions.