Albany, NY (WIBX) - Fishers are reminded to stay safe this winter by following the rules and using common sense before stepping out onto the ice.

The Department of Environmental Conservation says warmer winter weather has prevented large water bodies from freezing over, but smaller ponds may have a better chance.

Anglers are also warned to not take other people's footprints and snowmobile tracks as evidence of safe ice conditions.

The DEC says ice should be a minimum of three to four inches before it can be walked on it safely.

Anglers should also be careful around docks and moving water, since ice may not be as thick.

In most places, once the ice is thick enough, bait may be used. Those using bait are reminded to follow the regulations and use only certified disease-free fish purchased locally or collected from the same water they plan on fishing in.

To read all of the DEC's ice fishing regulations, click here.