When Winter Comes A-Callin'

Ice Fishing & Snow Tubing
By Stefani Jackenthal
  |  Gorp.com
Ice skating at dusk
#8: Ice Fishing on Lake Ontario (GeoStock/Getty)

8. Ice Fishing on Lake Ontario
New York state has a hearty collection of ice-fishing options. Winter anglers can drill holes in the ice and jiggle for pickerel, yellow perch, and sunfish in the shallow lakes and ponds, or head over deeper waters for northern pike, walleye, and lake trout. But to find some of the state's best ice fishing, hone in on the bays and backwaters in and around Lake Ontario, the world's 15th-largest lake.

On the east end, Henderson Harbor is a relatively undiscovered, fledging ice-fishing haven that's quickly gaining a reputation as the place to bag buckets of yellow perch (especially between 5:30 and 11:30 a.m.). Since winter perch feed on larvae and small critters, small bait-like live minnows, a perch-eye-tipped Swedish pimple, grub-tipped jig, or gold-hook bug fly are recommended. There is easy access on the south end of the harbor at Henderson Town Launch, while those on the east side can enter at West View Lodge & Marina. West View Lodge serves breakfast starting at 5:00 a.m., posts fishing reports in its dining room, and, come dinnertime, will cook your freshly caught fillet.

On the south shores, Sodus Bay is a hub of ice-fishing activity for Rochester locals. The conditions fluctuate from shallow and weedy to deeper, with drop-offs near the west sides of Eagle and Newark islands.

Another frosty fishing spot lies at the confluence of the Black River, Chaumont Bay, Guffin Bay, and Henderson Bay—a spot known as the Golden Triangle. Inhabited with pike, perch, and panfish, the somewhat shallow waters are peppered with points, peninsulas, and an assortment of islands that create ideal ice-fishing conditions. Long Point State Park on Point Peninsula west of Watertown, offers access to Chaumont and Guffin bays, while Westcott Beach State Park leads to Henderson Bay.

New York state does require a fishing license; the DEC issues fishing licenses and lists legal regional fishing areas.
Honorable Mention: Delta Lake State Park, near Rome in Central Leatherstocking.

7. Snow Tubing in Ellicottville (Allegheny)
Bundle up and head to Holiday Valley Tubing Co. for 60 vertical feet of pure snow-tubing fun. Plop into a donut-shaped rubber tube and swoosh down the dozen groomed tracks; two tow lines help you get back up top, and a warming hut with hot chocolate will keep the blood flowing between rides. Located in Ellicottville, a quaint square-mile village bustling with shops, restaurants, galleries, and a microbrewery, the tubing park is about an hour south of Buffalo, two hours west of Elmira, and three hours from Cleveland, OH. The main slides are restricted to kids seven years and older (height minimum 42 inches,) but there is a Young Little Tuber area for tykes. (Open Thurs from 4-9, Fri from 4-10, Sat from noon-10, and Sun and holidays from 12-9. Rates: $15 for two hours, $18 for three hours, $24 for an all-day pass)
Honorable Mention: O'Dea's Recreation Center/Snow Tubing Paradise in Olean (Allegheny).

Published: 9 Feb 2009 | Last Updated: 31 Aug 2011
Details mentioned in this article were accurate at the time of publication


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