Anglers, beware: Ice remains thin and uneven in Vermont, state warns

By HABIB SABET

VtDigger

Published: 01-08-2024 5:28 PM

The Vermont Fish & Wildlife Department is urging Vermont anglers to exercise extra caution while ice fishing this month due to inconsistent ice conditions caused by variable weather.

“What’s different about this year is just how late the ice seems to be coming,” Shawn Good, a fisheries biologist, said in an interview. “We’re still in this sort of in-between stage this year, where it feels cold but it’s not really cold enough to have enough ice in most spots yet.”

Good emphasized that parts of the Northeast Kingdom and places around the state at higher elevations generally have more fishable spots at present, while most lakes and ponds in southern Vermont and the Champlain Valley are not yet safe for fishing.

“Small ponds are people’s best bets right now,” said Good. “But even when you get there and the pond appears to be frozen all the way over, you still have to use common sense and be very careful.”

In a press release issued on Friday, the Fish & Wildlife Department offered a set of loose guidelines for Vermonters seeking to ice fish this month, including that they ensure ice as at least six inches thick, avoid areas where currents create weak ice, and bring a spud bar to test ice. 

The department has also shared a more comprehensive list of ice fishing safety tips on its website.

Good said that people interested in ice fishing, especially newcomers to the sport, shouldn’t get discouraged by the conditions or by the department’s calls for extra safety. 

“We don’t want these warnings to take away from the idea that ice fishing is a great winter activity that gets Vermonters outside and enjoying the outdoors,” said Good. “We just want people to do it with some common sense and be safe when they’re doing it.”

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