Ice Fishing Tips

The Best Ice Fishing Tips

Welcome to Apex Fishing Tips, this section of our website is devoted to the pastime of ice fishing and how to catch fish through the ice. Ice fishing is a popular method of fishing where anglers catch fish on a frozen body of water. This web page is going to help improve your ice fishing skills and help you catch bigger fish, more often.

Below you'll find 9 ice fishing tips that will help improve your knowledge of ice fishing and your success at catching fish. Ice fishing is a great way to catch fish during the winter after many lakes and ponds have frozen over. In fact, many of the current world fishing records were fish caught out on the ice. Continue down below to learn how to ice fish.

In addition to 9 ice fishing tips, we have a checklist of all the fishing gear and tackle you'll need to go ice fishing. You'll also find some awesome pictures of other people ice fishing from around the world. If you need more resources and information on ice fishing, you'll find it at the bottom of this web page.

9 Ice Fishing Tips

  1. Anything we write about ice fishing starts out with safety. Arguably ice fishing is one of the most dangerous recreational fishing methods. Always look up the latest ice report for where you're going ice fishing and never go out on ice that is less than 4 inches thick. We don't care how annoying they are, always wear a floatation device. Many ice fishing deaths could have been prevented with a floatation device. Keep an ice pick attached to your body, while the floatation device keeps you from going underwater, the ice pick can help you get out of the water.
  2. In the winter months fish are usually going to be deep. You'll want to locate an accurate topographical map that contains depth ranges for the body of water where your ice fishing. This can help you locate the best spot to drill your holes and the proper depth to set your bait or fishing rig. Remember, only choose spots that are safe with a minimum ice depth of 4 inches.
  3. When out on the ice we've seen countless anglers trying to lug all their equipment to their spot. This is dangerous because you're increasing your weight and wearing yourself out before you've even started fishing. Invest in an ice fishing sled to carry your equipment onto the ice. It's easier, takes less effort and lowers the total weight of your body.
  4. Fish are far less active in cold water during the winter months. They conserve energy by moving less and exerting less energy to catch prey. If you're using a jig or another sports type rig, you'll want to work slow and steady. Many anglers fail to catch fish out on the ice because they're moving to fast. Slow down and make it easy for fish to take the bait.
  5. In addition to being less active, fish will also be less aggressive with their bites and strikes. It's not uncommon for an angler to talk about a large crappie or walleye that they caught in which they didn't even know it took their bait. Using a bobber, a tip-up or ice trap can help you catch more fish out on the ice.
  6. There is an endless supply of jigs, soft plastics and lures you can use when ice fishing. Live bait works well but can sometimes be hard to keep alive or hook up in the cold weather. We're not going to say X jig is the best, or X lure catches the most fish. Lures and jigs are only as effective as how the angler uses them. Do some research on the native game fish where you're fishing, see what they normally eat and what other anglers have success with. Remember, the most successful lure and jigs mimic what fish already naturally feed on.
  7. If you're having trouble getting fish to bite, try bouncing your bait or jig off the bottom. The sound and debris stirred up by this action can attract fish over to your location. Many panfish, especially perch and bluegill, will fall for this trick. The secret is to do it softly and not create too much stirred up debris, this will make it hard for fish to see your bait or jig.
  8. Try to keep some ice shavings in your fishing holes, you want to cover the entire surface with ice shavings. This will help diffuse the light that might come through the hole. By diffusing light, you make it harder for fish to see your line and some fish will avoid areas with light during the winter times to avoid predators.
  9. Some anglers love to chum the area where they're ice fishing. The theory is fish that are feeding will attract other fish. You can use fish pellets, cut up worms and grounded up minnows as chum. However, you need to make sure it's legal to chum the water where you're fishing. Many lakes and ponds have regulations that restrict or ban chumming.

About Ice Fishing

About Ice Fishing

Ice fishing is a winter fishing method where an angler catches fish through a hole or opening of ice on top of a frozen lake or pond. Some anglers go all out when ice fishing, including the use of an elaborate heated shelter, also known as an ice shanty, that sits on the ice and use a gas powered auger to cut a hole into the ice. Other anglers will fish on the open ice without a shelter and use manual devices to cut a hole into the ice.

Ice fishing can be a thrilling method used to catch fish, but there are many dangers anglers need to be aware of when ice fishing. It's recommended you only walk on ice that is at a minimum 4 inches thick. If you're using a sled with a lot of equipment, then the ice should be at a minimum 6 inches thick. Make sure you wear the proper winter clothing and keep an ice pick on your side, it can be a life saver if you fall through the ice.

Ice Fishing Checklist

The below ice fishing checklist has the fishing gear and tackle you might need when fishing out on the ice.

Ice Fishing Pictures

A bass that was caught while ice fishing

A picture of a size bass that was caught while ice fishing.
(Credit: George Camann / Flickr)

Drilling a hole to go ice fishing

A picture of an angler using an auger to make an ice fishing hole.
(Credit: MTSOfann / Flickr)

The point of view when ice fishing

A picture showing an angler's point of view when ice fishing.
(Credit: schramroyal / Flickr)

Ice Fishing Resources