The best lakes for an ice fishing trip include the Lake of the Woods, Millie Lacs Lake, and Moosehead Lake. Book from a reputable resort, and always check the cost of your trip. Some resorts and hotels require you to pay to use their equipment, while others have all-inclusive prices. Don’t forget to acquire the necessary license and check with the local authority about fishing regulations and restrictions for your preferred waterbody. Before venturing out, wear warm clothes and check the thickness of the ice on the day of ice fishing.
Here is a complete guide to help you understand different ice trips, the best places to go ice fishing, the time you can go ice fishing, and the types of fish you’ll get at that time.
Types of Ice Fishing Trips
As an angler, you can go ice fishing at any time of the day. Some people plan to fish during the day, while others like overnight stays.
Here is a list of trips you can prepare for during this ice fishing season.
1. Day Trips
Day trips are ideal for beginners or people who want to explore ice fishing during the day and go home at night. You can book numerous spots for your day trips, as many lakes are open for ice fishing.
On your ice fishing adventure, you will likely encounter many fish species. Here is a list of the most common fish type you’ll find during the day.
Perch are common in the US waters, and you can catch them during the day. However, the best time to see them is around sunset and sunrise. During this time, they leave the deep waters and come along the shoreline to feed. Don’t expect to catch them at night as they don’t see well in the dark.
The best time to go ice fishing for trout is right after sunset or before sunrise. They feed in shallow water but like spending their time in deeper waters.
Trout are also sensitive, and you should set up the trap just before their feeding hours to prevent scaring them. You’ll have success fishing for them during the day rather than at night since they cannot see well in the dark.
Bluegills are usually active during the day, and you’ll catch plenty of them during the mid or late afternoon. They are not active most of the day, so you’ll have to wait for the afternoon. Because they have poor eyesight, it’s hard to find them after dark.
Northern pike like feeding during the day, and you’ll find plenty just a few hours after sunrise. They like feeding when the weather is cool. Since pike like feeding all day through, the time you locate them can vary from place to place.
When going for an ice fishing adventure, ensure you carry the right fishing gear. Some of the fishing gear you should bring include:
- Reel and lines
- Spring Bobber
- Small jig rod
- Ice auger
Remember, the line and lure you carry depend on the type of fish you’re targeting. Some fish types, like groupers, require braided lines, while you can use a small fluoro line for smaller species.
Although most lakes freeze during winter, confirming the ice thickness is advisable before you start angling. Also, wear layered clothes, waterproof pants, rubber-soled boots, a waterproof jacket, a scarf, and two pairs of socks to keep you warm.
2. Overnight Trips
Although most people like ice fishing during the day, some like fishing at night. Ice fishing at night is ideal for people who don’t like fishing in crowded areas. Remember, you’ll need to carry fishing gear designed for night ice fishing.
The most common species ideal for night fishing include:
Unlike most fish species, walleyes have goodnight vision and can feed well under low light. The best time to catch them is after sunset and throughout the night. When ice fishing at night for trophy walleye, use glowing lures and the best walleye rods to attract them.
Just like walleyes, crappies can see well during the night. They move to deeper waters during the day and come near the shoreline to feed after sunset. If you’re planning an overnight ice fishing trip, be sure you’ll catch several crappies in most waters.
Tips for Ice Fishing at Night
Here are tips to help you have a successful night ice fishing journey.
Find a good spot before sunset: Visit the area where you intend to drill holes and use a GPS to mark the places.
Set the trap before sunset: Some fish start feeding minutes before sunset, and setting a trap early might attract a fish. Setting up early also helps you spend more time fishing at night rather than stumbling in the dark.
Mind your safety: Looking for fish at night is quite dangerous, and it’s advisable to follow all the rules set in place. Some safety measures to observe include marking your ice shack using tape and following safe paths as you go to your ice house.
Bring a headlamp: A headlamp will help you see as you set up or tie a new lure. Choose a headlamp with green or red light to help preserve night vision.
Use glow lights: Hydro Glows attract minnows and microscopic plankton toward your lure.
Use multiple rods: Using two rods simultaneously will increase your chances of inducing a bite. If you’re ice fishing for walleye, use one rod for jigging and place baits on the other.
Use glow lures: Using glow-in-the-dark lures helps attract nocturnal predators to your setup. Their exceptional night vision will see glowing lures miles away.
Use live minnows: Active live minnows placed under the tip up or a dead stick will attract walleye towards your ice hole.
Use tip up lights: It’s hard to see where your tip ups are at night. Battery-powered tip-ups lights will increase visibility and expedite the search.
Bait up a rattle reel: There are moments you’ll need to take a nap as you wait for the fish to come. Rattle reels will pull up the line when the fish strikes.
Use flutter spoons: Night fish usually rely on their lateral line to detect vibrations. Using flutter spoons will make walleyes and crappies get interested in your lures.
3. Multi-Day Trips
People who want to explore ice fishing in different spots can book multiple-day fishing trips. You must prepare well since you’ll spend some days away from home. Start by carrying enough clothes, lures, baits, refreshments, and extra fishing lines/rods.
Since you’ll be spending a lot of your time outdoors, renting a shanty is advisable to shield you from the cold. Moreover, most fishing spots are surrounded by resorts that offer accommodation to people who want to fish at night or spend some days near the lake.
Best Ice Fishing Destinations
There are numerous lakes in the US that you can try your luck on. Here is a list of the most popular ice fishing spots.
Lake of the Woods, Oregon
Lake of the Woods is the largest lake in Klamath County, Oregon. This lake offers many opportunities to those who want to do daytime ice fishing. It is home to different fish species, such as Lake Trout, Salmon, Bass, and Crappies.
There are numerous resorts surrounding the Lake of the Woods, where you can book to take your lunch or refreshments. Some resorts offer other recreational activities such as bird watching and ice skating. So, you can bring your kids along to ice skate as you’re busy fishing.
Henry’s Lake, Idaho
Every winter, many anglers gather here for their ice fishing adventure. This is because Lake Henry is home to many fish species, like the trophy-sized trout. Other popular species include Yellowstone cutthroat, rainbow trout, and brook trout.
Some resorts surrounding the lake offer other snow-related activities, such as ice skating, snowshoeing, skiing, and snowmobiling. There is also a town nearby where you can try their traditional food.
Bonaparte Lake, Washington
This lake is found on the West Coast of Washington, near Bonaparte Mountain. The most popular catches include Kokanee, Brook Trout, Smallmouth Bass, Lake Trout, Tiger Trout, and Rainbow Trout.
Ice fishing here is fun as you get a chance to catch your favorite fish in a remote oasis away from city life. The area is surrounded by rustic wooden cabins where you can unwind as you cook your catch. The Sno-Park trails are nearby, and you can visit them to reconnect with nature.
Sheridan Lake, South Dakota
Sheridan lake is a popular lake found in the Black Hills National Forest on the western side of South Dakota. If you’re planning to go ice fishing in a secluded place, Sheridan Lake is the place to be. The lake is home to different fish species, such as trout, pike, and perch.
Moosehead lake is the largest lake on the East Coast of Maine. It is home to many fish species, including salmon, cusks, and brook trout.
There are numerous resorts surrounding Moosehead Lake, where you can book if you plan to stay for more than one day. Besides fishing, other recreational activities you can try at Moosehead Lake include snowmobiling, snowshoeing, and mountain climbing.
Lake of the Woods, Minnesota
This lake is found on Ontario, Manitoba, and Minnesota border. Lake of the woods is the largest lake in Minnesota, and its shoreline offers a massive fishing ground. During the day, you’ll get plenty of northern pikes, bass, perch, and Saugers. There is also plenty of walleye at night.
Lake of the Woods is open to people who want to fish during the day or at night. Some resorts rent ice fishing gear and a shanty if you need one. They also offer accommodation, so you can rest and have your meal as you plan to go fishing.
Boom Lake, Wisconsin
This lake is located in Wisconsin and has plenty of things to offer. Boom lake is famous for panfish angling. However, you can find other fish species like walleyes, smallmouth and largemouth bass, pike, and musky. This lake is kid-friendly; you can bring your children along during the ice fishing season.
Rhinelander town is minutes away from Boom Lake, and you can drive there to refill your lures or recharge in one of the town’s cafes or diners.
Shores and Islands, Ohio
Shores and Islands is found in Ohio, just near Lake Erie. This colossal body is also known as the “Walleye Capital of the World” because it’s famous for walleye fishery.
Other fish species you can find here include trout, bass, perch, and trout. You can fish anywhere on the shoreline, but a guide must accompany you if you want to fish in deeper waters.
Also, check out this luxury fish house in Leech Lake, Minnesota!
If you want to go on an ice fishing trip, plenty of options are available. The most popular trips include day trips, ideal for people who wish to explore ice fishing during the day, and night trips, perfect for people who want to stay there overnight.
You can also organize a multi-day trip to explore different ice fishing spots. Millie Lacs Lake, Sheridan Lake, Bonaparte Lake, and Moosehead Lake are the most popular places for ice fishing.
Remember to ask for the overall cost and the lake’s restrictions and regulations so you can plan. Your safety is paramount, so check the ice thickness before setting up your ice shanty.