We love ice fishing as much as anyone out there, but we also love to share those locations that might be a little more deserving of your attention. As with many areas, ice fishing in the Northeast demands that you prepare for safety, but when you have a chance to try some of these areas, you won't be disappointed with the effort.
When the winter's cold begins to blow up and you've been itching to go ice fishing, these five states will keep you warm and ready to ice some fish and fill a bucket. The best part is that you won't be limited in your targets since these areas offer everything from bass, pike, and panfish to rainbows, browns, and walleyes.
The order of choice here is arbitrary, but only meant to give you a starting point in your search for the region's best ice fishing opportunities. Sure, the length of the ice fishing season varies state to state, but most years bring good conditions from late December to early March. Whether you prefer lakes, bays, or reservoirs, everything that you're looking for is right here and available for those seeking a little something different from the usual stops.
From Presque Isle Bay to the Allegheny Reservoir, ice fishing enthusiasts will find a plethora of ice fishing opportunities to choose from in the Quaker State. Pennsylvania is ripe with small and larger waters from the Allegheny Mountains to the Poconos in the eastern part of the state.
Walleye, pike, and muskellunge can all be taken through the ice here along with trout and even catfish. When the weather is cooperative, January and February can be the prime time for ice anglers and outdoor enthusiasts ready to venture out on the ice. Pennsylvania is also well known for the sheer amount of freshwater that it offers anglers of every level, so an ice fishing stopover here can also lead to great warm weather fishing opportunities as well.
With massive water bodies such as Sebago and Moosehead lakes, Maine continues to offer up more square miles of ice fishing that most other states in the region. With landlocked salmon and lake trout, not to mention smallmouth bass and brook trout present, hard water anglers will find everything that they could possibly want in Maine.
Make sure to check the Maine Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife to make sure that you're not specifically targeting species that are out of season. Maine offers many areas that have substantial populations of wild caught fish, and others that are stocked to give kids and newer fishermen a great chance to have success.
Vermont's many lakes offer some of the best ice fishing in the Northeast. With over 800 bodies of water to choose from, you could spend a lifetime trying to fish them all, but it should be said that some lakes in Vermont are closed to ice fishing in the winter months. Between the Green Mountains and the border with New Hampshire, Vermont you will find whatever you want in the way of ice angling and more.
The Harriman and Waterbury Reservoirs are great destinations, but if you really want to try your luck at a nationally renowned body of water, then the fabled Lake Champlain (which borders NY) is for you since there's no closed season for trout and salmon fishing on Champlain, so as soon as anglers have safe ice, they can start fishing.
The problem with ice fishing in New York is that there may be more ice angling opportunities here than anywhere else. There are the Lake Ontario and Lake Erie bays, the smaller Finger Lakes, up to and including the north country's Black Lake and Lake Champlain.
New York's frozen waters provide hard water anglers with the chance to target every species they could hope for including landlocked salmon, trout, bass, pike, muskie, walleye, and panfish. As with any ice fishing region, some species are limited to bycatch events and must be immediately returned to the water.
New Hampshire is loaded with ice fishing opportunities like Lake Winnipesaukee, Lake Winnisquam, and Newfoundland Lake. Like its other New England neighbors, New Hampshire is an endearing state replete with views and vistas that cannot be beat, even in the winter.
This is one of the best Northeast states to target and catch burbot, which ice anglers don't get to see often in this region. If you're looking for a chance to see largemouth bass, smallmouth bass, pickerel, perch, and lake trout then you won't be disappointed when fishing on New Hampshire's hard water.
Please check out my book "The Hunter's Way" from HarperCollins. Be sure to follow my webpage, or on Facebook and YouTube.