Fishing- In The New York Area > ICE FISHING

Reservoir Trout through the Ice

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MursePetersen:
So my brother and I have been on a quest for NYC watershed trout through the ice for over a decade. We have never connected and are reaching the limits of our sanity. We put in hours of watching tip-ups soaking, jigging, and dead sticking without results. We fish many of the Putnam County reservoirs, especially West Branch, Croton Falls, and Lake Gilead. Occasionally we will hit Boyds Corners or Lake Gleneida. I refuse to believe that we are just unlucky. We must be doing something very wrong. At the risk of being very longwinded, I want to describe our day to figure out if there are any glaring issues with our strategy...

Our usual day consists of getting there in the dark, setting up our tip-ups. Recently we have started placing the first tip up very close to shore, in about 5 feet of water. Then we back away from shore placing tip ups every 20 feet or so, placing lively shiners usually 2-3 feet up from the bottom, in depths from 5-60 feet of water. One tip-up is usually set just below the ice, because we have heard of "cruising" trout that are high in water column. Our tip-ups are rigged with about 100 ft of ice line followed by a small swivel and 6 foot of 6 lb. fluoro leader, with a small hook thru the back or lips of a shiner (my brother and I argue so we each do it our own way). Once all the tip-ups are out, we usually set up alongside the line of tip ups and start jigging with Swedish pimples and small jigheads tipped with mousies or earthworm chunks. Inevitably, when a flag goes up, it us almost always a yellow perch. If we catch multiple Yellows in the same area, we usually move the jigging operation to that depth. Each day we go home with a frying pan worth of yellow perch, and usually set free pickerel and an occasional bass.

The reservoirs are a unique water system. Quiet, clean, and cold. They are unlike most other large bodies of water simply because they have no boat traffic and trout thrive there (at least I'm told) We always have fun, but we really want a big hook-jawed brown trout. Based off the fish we catch, I think we are mostly fishing muddy, soft bottom. To be honest I don't have a fish-finder or sonar to tell anyway. I have been told by a few people that "inactive" trout are cruising in the deeper water, which I'm told stays at a consistent 50 degrees year round, and will take an easy meal if they come across it. Others have told me the "active" trout who are looking for a meal come into the shallower water to feed, usually near structure like a shelf or rocks. My main three questions are this...

1- Any major issues with technique?
2- What depth should I be focusing my efforts?
3- Are shiners a waste of time? Should I stick to mousies/earthworms/waxworms?

Gordon:
My only suggestion would be to try some intermediate depths with the tip-ups; say 20-30 ft. under the ice. With temperatures relatively stable throughout the water column during the winter, trout can be anywhere so I tend to stagger tip-ups from 5' under the ice to near the bottom. Perch definitely relate more to the bottom. Shiners should work on the tip ups. Catching browns in the winter is never consistent like spring/summer can be, but except for Boyd's all the lakes you mentioned are good brown trout waters, with Gilead and Gleneida also having decent laker populations. As far as jigging goes would definitely recommend a flasher, but I have caught more browns through ice on tip ups than jigging.

MursePetersen:
Thank you so much. I will try that. Are the lakers usually deeper? I see many guys fishing in the 80-120 ft depths of Lake Gilead for them, but I've never seen anyone pull one up...

Gordon:
I will defer to the laker experts on this board, but if you want to target them in winter I would seriously consider places like Lake George. If I'm targeting them in open water I'll normally fish either Kensico or Rondout, but neither of those are open to ice fishing. Kensico tends to freeze later than most reservoirs so I was trolling there as recently as 3 weeks ago. While nearly all the fish I marked on that trip were closer to the bottom in deep water, the only fish I caught was a laker on a flat lined krocodile near the surface, so you never know when water temps are in the 30's from top to bottom.

Steve_J:
I've only fished over there once and it was years ago. I do jig lakers in the adks though and can tell you they are generally on the bottom in 50-100 feet of water. They like to chase jigs up and down, i wouldnt even go trout jigging without my flasher because their bites are too unpredictable... they might grab it off the bottom or chase you to the top or even chase you up and down several times

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