Ice Fishing Tips

Tips for Elevating Your Game

Understanding the basic techniques of ice fishing is a far cry from successfully hauling giant pike from the depths or catching a bucketful of perch. To an extent, you simply need to practice and gain experience to improve your catch numbers.

The following tips will help accelerate your progress.

A Little Research

Finding the fish is one of the most challenging aspects of ice fishing. Most fish relate to some structure, so try to identify primary lake points, creek channels, and ledges by noting the above-ground topography and consulting maps of the lake bottom.

Patience + Comfort

Ice fishing requires patience. So comfort is imperative to keep your spirits high while waiting through the monotony.

  • Wear several layers of clothes to stay warm.
  • Always have three or four towels to keep your hands and gear dry.
  • Bring a comfortable chair to sit on. Traditionally, a bucket is the go-to item as you can carry things in it as well.

Use Tip-ups

It is often helpful to work several holes at once. But to fish multiple holes at the same time, you need to use tip-ups to help monitor your lines.

Tip-ups are small, pendulum-like devices that automatically release the line and raise a flag (to get your attention) when a fish strikes the lure.

Target Species

With any other type of fishing, you need to tailor your fishing strategy and technique to suit your target species. You can’t catch a bluegill with a 12-inch-long swimbait!


Pike is large, predatory fish that is commonly caught on live minnows such as chubs or suckers. However, other anglers are successful using spoons or jigs. You can attach a live minnow to a spoon for the best of both worlds.

Pike normally holds near the bottom in deep water. But in shallower areas, they tend to stage at mid-depths.


If you are looking to catch huge numbers of fish, perch is often the best choice. In deep lakes, they may form schools comprised of more than 1,000 individual fish.

They primarily prey on minnows and small fish, so anglers usually use minnow-mimicking lures including spoons or small swimming lures to elicit bites. They are notoriously light-biting fish, so you want to use a very light line and pay careful attention to your rod tip.


Walleye is one of the most popular targets among ice anglers. Most are caught within a few feet at the bottom, and anglers typically use jigs (with or without a minnow attached to the end) when pursuing them.

They often prefer lures that remain motionless rather than those that are bouncing around always. They also prefer to feed around dawn and dusk, but they are occasionally caught during mid-day. 


Trout is an excellent specie to target in shallow water. Those in small waters rarely reach the size of their counterparts living in huge reservoirs, so you want to adjust your bait accordingly.

A smaller trout is easier to catch by using live insects, while larger ones are fond of minnows or minnow-mimicking lures.

Lake Trout

Lake trout is large, open-water fish that is often caught over some deep structure such as a shelf or creek channel. In contrast to shyer fish like walleye, which prefers lures that aren’t moving very much, you catch more lake trout by imparting erratic action on your bait.

Most of the best lures used are colored like yellow perch – one of the favorite preys of these large fish.


Salmon is one of the most difficult specie to catch while ice fishing since their population is lower when compared to trout or walleye, for example.

They are normally caught early in the morning, within a few hours of sunrise. 3- to 4-inch long minnows are the ideal choice for bait when targeting salmon.

Final Thoughts

Ice angling is not only fun. It can also be a productive method of fishing which keeps your freezer stocked until you start fly fishing or trolling when spring rolls around. Don’t let your unfamiliarity with the techniques stand in your way.

It’s really easy to learn how to ice fish once you understand the basic facts we’ve outlined here.

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