Ice Fishing in Connecticut

If you are planning to go ice fishing in Connecticut, make sure you are familiar with the rules and regulations that govern fishing as set forth by the Connecticut Department of Environmental Protection. Whether you are a veteran of ice fishing in Connecticut or taking it up for the first time, not knowing some of these laws could cost you a pretty penny. Wherever you purchase your fishing license, you can also grab a free Connecticut Angler’s Guide, which is full of the information that you need to not only make ice fishing in Connecticut a fun venture, but a legal one as well.

First things first. If you are planning to go ice fishing in Connecticut this winter, you need to have a valid Connecticut fishing license. The licenses expire on the last day of the year in this state, meaning that if you plan to go ice fishing in Connecticut in December of this year, you are going to have to have a 2006 license. That same license is no good on January 1st, 2007; to be legally ice fishing in Connecticut on that date you need a 2007 license. Once you reach the age of sixteen you need to purchase a Connecticut license, which costs twenty dollars for residents and members of the Armed Forces, no matter which state they hail from. Non-residents who plan to be ice fishing in Connecticut must ante up forty dollars for a fishing license. If these individuals plan to be ice fishing on Connecticut’s border lakes and ponds, they should check their own state’s handbook to see if their state’s license covers them on the Connecticut side. A three day fishing license for non-residents goes for $16 for those of you who are going ice fishing in Connecticut while visiting relatives or just taking a mini-vacation there to do some angling.

Fishing licenses are available at bait shops, town halls, and even at most Wal-Marts, so if you know someone who is planning on ice fishing in Connecticut, it is possible to surprise them at Christmas with a 2007 fishing license as a gift. Call one of these places locally to get the details on how to make this happen. The DEP fines for ice fishing in Connecticut are clear cut and steep. Ice fishing in Connecticut without a license is a $77 infraction, as is fishing without your license; it must be in your possession while you are out on the ice. I have been ice fishing in Connecticut the past few seasons, and I have my license laminated and put it in my wallet, which then goes into a secure pouch in a plastic bag in my fishing tackle box. If you are ice fishing in Connecticut while your fishing license has been revoked or suspended for some reason, and you are caught, expect to write a $150 check to the DEP!

The regulations regarding ice fishing in Connecticut limit a fisherman to no more than six tip-ups, hand held lines, or a combination of the two at any one time. This means that if you have six tilts in your holes that you have cut, if you are going to sit and “jig” for fish with a rod, one of those tip-ups has to come out first. If you are under sixteen and ice fishing in Connecticut, you are only able to have a pair of tilts in holes at any one time, or one tilt while you are jigging. As an example, if you are eighteen and are fishing with two licensed friends, one who is fifteen and one who is seventeen, the most tip-ups you may have in at any one time is fourteen; six for you, six for the seventeen year old and two for the fifteen year old. On these tip-ups, you can have no more than three baited hooks, ice flies, or artificial lures at once. Again, any combo of these can not exceed three while ice fishing in Connecticut. The devices must be personally attended while ice fishing in Connecticut, meaning you cannot simply set up your tip-ups and go back home, planning on checking them later. Your name and address must be clearly written, taped, or stamped on all tip-ups. I write mine on my tilts in magic-marker before each ice fishing season begins.

Know your daily creel limits and minimum lengths before you go ice fishing in Connecticut, because there are some big time fines for having illegal fish in your possession. Largemouth and smallmouth bass must be at least a foot long, and you may not have more than six of these combined. Northern Pike, a species which has made ice fishing in Connecticut considerably more exciting in recent years since the DEP has stocked them in select lakes throughout the state, must be at least 26 inches in length and only two can be taken daily. Walleye are in a few of the lakes around the Nutmeg State, and they had better be a foot and a half long if you are keeping them. Only two walleye can be taken in a day. All of the daily creel limits and minimum lengths are listed in the Angler’s Guide, so make sure you know them if any ice fishing in Connecticut is in your future. The state imposes a $154 fine for each illegal fish in your possession, which can add up in a hurry.

One more thing when ice fishing in Connecticut. There are a great number of lakes and ponds in the state that close their seasons for a few weeks on March 1st, to allow the DEP to stock these bodies of water for the upcoming fishing season. In my area for instance, Alexander’s Lake in Killingly has an open season from the third Saturday in April of 2006 until February 28th, 2007. Just up the road from there, the Quaddick Reservoir is open year round. To be ice fishing in Connecticut on a lake or pond with a closed season falls under the “violation of sport fishing regulations”; this gets you the $154 fine! The Connecticut Angler’s Guide lists all the lakes and ponds that are available to fish in the state, the open seasons for each, the species available there, and any other pertinent info for that spot, such as slot limits or boating regulations. Come to think of it, the Angler’s Guide would make a neat stocking stuffer for any loved ones who plan on ice fishing in Connecticut this winter!

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