By Spider Rybaak
|Ice shanties on Sandy Pond.|
You seldom hear Lake Ontario and ice-fishing in the same breath. That’s because you can’t trust the wind out there. Even during the most severe winters, when the lake is entombed in white for as far as the eye can see, the ice is brittle at best and all it would take is a Canadian sneeze to fragment it, blowing it south to pack sunny Oswego’s beaches in an icy, pizza-like crust.
That’s why nature gave us the Eastern Lake Ontario Dune and Wetland Area, 17-miles of sandy beach stretching from the mouth of the Salmon River to just north of the Black Pond Wildlife Management Area. And while the dunes and magnificent shoreline draw countless sun worshipers from around the world in summer; and the viewing platforms spotting the wetlands see hordes of birdwatchers spring and fall; winter gets into the act, too, beckoning legions of anglers to the ponds tucked-in behind the dunes, to walk on water and drill for fish dinners.
Eight large ponds grace the place. The northernmost, Black Pond, is unpredictable; a couple years ago high water broke through the sand barrier at the beach and drained the thing, leaving nothing but a skinny creek. And South Sandy, the southernmost pond, doesn’t offer any public access. The six in-between boast fish year-round and some, like South Colewell Pond, even have public launch sites with parking, but they’re not always plowed.
That leaves the biggest in the system, North Sandy Pond. Measuring about 3 miles long and over a mile wide, fed by numerous creeks, loaded with habitat warm water species thrive in and boasting some of the first safe ice in the county, it’s the premier ice-fishing destination on this corner of the big lake.
The pond is best known for its northern pike and perch fisheries. Northerns ranging from 22 to 28 inches, and perch running from 7 to 10 inches are plentiful, and quite a few larger specimens are available. Lake walleyes are becoming more and more common under the ice around here. Their hormones hooked out in the lake by the pond’s fragrant plume, big females start trickling in around late February, and spawned-out males hang around for a couple weeks after the season opens. Look for them over rocky bottoms on the south end, near the mouth of Little Sandy Creek.
This is also the best spot to catch steelhead on their way to spawn in Little Sandy Creek. Crappies and sunfish are also popular, and mostly targeted on the north end.
Limited street parking, a large pay lot, and free pond access (the slot on the east side of the restaurant) are available at the end of Wigwam Drive, off CR 15. Free parking and winter access (though not always plowed) are available at Sandy Pond Beach, at the end of CR 15. Woody’s Tackle, a full service bait shop located on NY 3, about three miles south of the pond, can provide up-to-the-minute fishing information. Call 315-298-2378. Sandy Pond is ringed in private property. Don’t venture on anyone’s land without permission.
|Iced jack perch.|
|Walleye on ice.|