Cornell Cooperative Extension shares how to safely fish this winter

Around New York State

ALBANY, N.Y. (NEWS10) – Many people are spending more time outdoors during the COVID pandemic. Some may consider going fishing this winter. The Cornell Cooperative Extension (CCE) of Albany County wants to make sure New Yorkers in the East-Central region fish safely in the coming months.

Checking if the ice is safe to go on

According to the CCE, the Department of Environmental Conservation says ice is not safe yet on ponds, bays of lakes and river backwaters. Due to mild weather in recent weeks, it may be possible to access local bodies of water close to your home.  This can help keep your trip short and help you avoid high traffic destinations.

Health hazards of fish consumption

Fish can be an important part of a healthy diet. However, in the section of the Hudson River from the Troy Dam to the Rip Van Winkle Bridge in Catskill, the CCE says there are unsafe levels of polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs) in the water and in the fish. PCBs are an industrial waste chemicals which can build up in your body over time.  

Health problems that may result from eating fish with PCBs range from small changes over time, that are hard to detect, to effects on birthweight and cancer. Women who eat highly contaminated fish and become pregnant may have an increased risk of having children who are slower to develop and learn.

The CCE says exposure to contaminants may have a greater effect on young children than adults. For women over 50 years of age and men older than 15, four species of fish (rock bass, yellow perch, alewife and blueback herring) from this stretch of the Hudson River can be eaten once a month.  South of the Rip Van Winkle Bridge in Catskill, more species fish can be eaten up to one meal per month, including striped bass.

Fortunately, the CCE says the majority of waters in Albany County are clean and the whole family can eat a meal of fish caught in them once a week.

Where to fish

Two water bodies in Albany County are Ann Lee Pond in Colonie, and Thompson’s Lake in Berne/Knox. They are both popular for ice fishing and have public access to fishing. Go to to find a list of fishing waters with public access.

What you might catch

Fish species that are common in Ann Lee Pond include Common Carp, Brown Bullhead, Pumpkinseed, Bluegill, Largemouth Bass, White Crappie, Black Crappie and Yellow Perch.  In addition to those fish, Thompson’s Lake also has Rainbow Trout, Brown Trout, Smallmouth Bass, and Chain Pickerel. 

How to prepare for your fishing trip

Be prepared for changing winter weather conditions like snow, ice and cold weather by wearing layers of clothing. In case of an emergency, you might consider planning ahead and bringing things like first aid supplies, food and water, a map and sun protection. Finally, you should let someone know your route and return time in the case of getting lost or stuck at your fishing location.

Check the DEC website for licenses and regulations pertaining to fresh water fishing in Upstate New York.

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