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Frozen Roundup - Ice Fishing Bulletin

February 16, 2022

meredith ice fishing derby

Are you ready for the crunch of ice underfoot, a fresh breeze, and the thrill of fishing in frozen waters? It’s time to pack your ice fishing gear and explore New Hampshire’s ponds and lakes. From the North Country to the southern region, you’ll find countless opportunities for catching both warmwater and coldwater species this season.

January’s subzero temperatures produced a thick layer of ice, creating a stable base for bob houses, snowmobiles, and anglers on foot. But watch out for warm and fluctuating temperatures in February, especially in the southern part of the state. As the sun heats lakes through insulating snow, ice melts and thickness becomes unpredictable – even previously safe areas can become unsafe. Recent rain in southern and central regions has created slushy conditions. Always check ice thickness before heading out. Visit www.wildnh.com/outdoor-recreation/ice-safety.html for tips.

fish fry on the ice

If you’re a beginner, you’ll need the right equipment to get started. Bring a chisel or auger for punching a hole through the ice and a scoop to clear slush from holes. For an active experience, try using a jigging rod with lures or bait. Tip-ups are another option that allow you to kick back and relax, in case you’re in the mood for a cookout on the ice with friends – just set the line and look for the flag to pop up when you get a bite. For maximum effect, hook a shiner or mealworm onto your lure. Read more about gear and beginner tips here and find out where to buy shiners, mealworms, and other essential live baits with NHFG’s bait dealer list.

If you’re looking for new spots to fish, NHFG's public access map gives you the chance to explore online before your trip. This interactive map has links to access points and depth maps of NH lakes, along with species found there. Smaller ponds make excellent destinations for yellow perch and crappie – these fish are plentiful and tasty (even tastier after you’ve spent a long day outside). Take a look at this video for tips on filleting your catch. In larger lakes like Winnipesaukee, you’ve got a chance at trout and numerous other species.

A spectacular state record cusk caught in Lake Winnipesaukee by Ryan Scott Ashley in January spurred a surge of interest in cusk fishing this year. Cusk are usually found in deep water, but they move inshore to depths of 30 feet or less at this time of year – which brings them within reach of jigs and cusk lines. Take a look at this page for in-depth information on how to get after these fascinating fish.

Ice fishing is a social and family-friendly activity that lets anglers of all skill levels have fun outside. With President’s Day Weekend coming up, many of us have an extra day to get out on the water. If you’re looking for a great time with kids, family or friends after a long winter cooped up indoors, you might be interested in an ice fishing derby. You’ll find snacks, prizes, and plenty of fishing action at these events. Check out the current list of tournaments here.

yellow perch

Remember to buy your fishing license and refer to the New Hampshire Freshwater Fishing Digest for laws and regulations. Fish and Game's ice fishing page has useful information and a quick reference chart on gear allowances, locations, and everything else you’ll need to have a great time out on the water.

Happy fishing!