Deciding where to go ice fishing? Some of the most renowned ice fishing destinations include Lake Winnebago, Lake of the Woods, Wisconsin River, and Lake Michigan.
Before embarking on your ice fishing adventure, consider factors such as local regulations, weather conditions, and fish seasonal patterns—additionally, research nearby accommodations like resorts and hotels and the services they provide. Remember that ice fishing can be hazardous; always prioritize safety by checking the ice thickness before venturing onto the frozen water.
Every winter season, anglers around the State gather their fishing equipment to go fishing in their favorite fishing spots. If you’re starting, and need help knowing where to go ice fishing, here is a complete guide to help you identify the best ice fishing spots in the US.
1. Devils Lake, North Dakota
Devils Lake is a massive waterbody with a massive shoreline perfect for ice fishing. This lake is home to numerous fish species, including jumbo perch, northern pike, and Walleye.
This lake is surrounded by numerous resorts and bait shops, where you can rest or refill your lures before going ice fishing. Additionally, if you’re a beginner, many outfitters are willing to teach you how to ice-fish and help explore new areas for a small fee.
2. Lake of the Woods, Oregon
Are you in Klamath County and want to go ice fishing? Lake of the Woods is a massive lake covering around 1000 acres of surface. The lake hosts numerous fish species like yellow perch, salmon, trout, bass, and crappie.
This lake is blessed with towering forests and scenic snow-capped Cascades that will rekindle your fishing spirits. Many resorts offer superb accommodation, and you can bring your kids along and have quality ice fishing or skating time.
3. Silver Lake, California
This lake provides ice anglers with scenic ice fishing spots in California. Silver Lake is located at the foot of Carson Mountain and is stocked with numerous fish species. Every ice fishing season, expect to catch Brook Trout, Cutthroat Trout, Rainbow Trout, and Brown Trout.
Trout get big here; if you’re lucky enough, you can catch a trout over 20 inches long. After a long day of ice fishing here, you can breathe fresh air and have a cup of coffee in one of the many resorts.
4. Bonaparte Lake, Washington
The Bonaparte lake is found at the foot of Bonaparte Mountain and is a popular ice fishing spot in Washington. Some of the most popular species include Smallmouth Bass, Lake Trout, Brook Trout, Kokanee Salmon, and Tiger Trout.
The lake is suitable for new and seasoned anglers, and be prepared to have an unforgettable experience. Apart from ice fishing, you can do other recreational activities such as skiing, skating, and hiking. There are also some wooden cabins where you can rewind as you reconnect with nature.
5. Birch Lake, Alaska
Birch Lake is next to the Richardson Highway and offers the best angling opportunities in Alaska. This lake freezes as early as late October, so it’s a good option if you want to start ice fishing early.
If you can withstand freezing temperatures, expect to catch Landlocked salmon, Rainbow Trout, Arctic Char, Arctic Grayling, Coho Salmon, and Lake Trout. The lake is also frequently stocked with fish by the Alaska Department of Game and Fish. This lake is kids friendly and is a perfect destination for newbies.
6. Lake Champlain, Vermont
Lake Champlain is a massive waterbody with premier ice fishing spots. It’s also surrounded by resorts that offer accommodation and rent fishing equipment to anglers visiting here.
Lake Champlain hosts different species scattered in other parts of the lake. The lake trout and salmons are plenty in the Champlain Bridge and Port Henry, while Bluegill and White Perch are many near Bulwagga Bay. If you visit the northern and southern tips of this lake, you’ll find walleye. There is also plenty of northern pike in the Keeler, Carry, and Missisquoi bay.
7. Antero Reservoir, Colorado
Every winter month, anglers in Colorado visit this reservoir, hoping to catch their favorite trout species. The most common species include the Snake River Cutthroat, Brook, Rainbow, and Greenback Cutthroat Trout.
Other species found in the Antero Reservoir include the Splake and Kokanee Salmons. Remember, fish here grow big, and you can catch trophy Rainbow Trout here.
8. Lake Gogebic, Michigan
This lake is located in the Upper Peninsula, next to Lake Michigan and Lake Superior. The lake lies within the Ottawa National Forest, thus making it a perfect ice fishing destination for anglers who want to reconnect with nature.
Lake Gogebic is famous for Jumbo perch and Trophy Walleyes. Other species you can get here include the Northern Pike and Smallmouth Bass. Remember, there are several resorts where you can relax or refill your lures for your next big catch.
Other great lakes popular for ice fishing include Lake Superior, Lake Michigan, Lake Granby, Red Lake, and Moosehead Lake.
How To Choose a Location
Numerous lakes in the US offer ice fishing. But how do you decide which frozen lake is worth your fishing trip? Here are factors you should consider when choosing the best ice fishing spots.
Most anglers want to go fishing in a place with scenic beauty. Some lakes are tucked inside the forest, while snow-capped cascades surround others. Are you the kind that loves ice fishing while reconnecting with nature, or you don’t mind fishing in a lake near a town? Choose a place with your most preferred landscape.
Some lakes offer excellent fishing opportunities, but navigating through the snow can be hazardous. When choosing a lake for ice fishing, ensure you can access the place safely.
It’s necessary to know the accommodation options available, especially if you want to spend some time ice fishing. Weigh your options because some resorts offer only food and bed while others rent you a fish house or other fishing equipment.
Are you after a big pike or a jumbo perch? Choose a fishing destination with plenty of your targeted species.
Local Regulations and Restrictions
Always ensure you meet all the requirements to ice fish in a particular location. Most destinations require you to have a valid fishing license. Also, check whether there are other restrictions to avoid frustrations at the last minute.
Tips for Finding the Best Ice Fishing Spots
After choosing great locations to go ice fishing, the next thing is to learn how to find ice fish in that particular waterbody. Here are the tips you can follow to help you find the best ice fishing spot.
1. Know Where Your Favorite Species Like to Feed and Hide
During winter, this vegetation grows in reefs, rocky points, deep, soft-bottom, and sand bars. Most fish species congregate near rocks, gravels, transition areas, depressions, sticky bottom layers, and inlets and outlets.
2. Follow the Crowd and Move Around
There are many experienced anglers out there who know where the fish like hiding. You can ask them questions, and they will guide you to where you can find your favorite species.
If you’re a seasoned angler and want to explore new areas. You can use a contour map to guide you in identifying a place with the correct depth.
3. Different Species, Different Behaviors
Different species like gathering at different depths. For example:
Northern Pike: They can be found as low as 5 feet and like gathering in rock or hard-bottomed areas.
Bass: Smallmouth bass like roaming in hard or rocky bottoms about 20-40 feet deep. On the other hand, largemouth bass like residing in different depths, but you can spot them near shallow areas with weeds.
Walleye: Walleyes like gathering near drop-offs, healthy weed beds, and around reefs.
Yellow Perch: During mid-winter months, the perch roam near deeper flats or shallow flat weed beds. They also like hanging out in areas about 20-40 feet deep.
4. Use Technology
Nowadays, many electronic devices will help you locate your favorite species quickly. You can use digital maps, sonar units, flashers, LCDs, and Underwater Cameras to help you display your favorite species and the structures they like hiding into.
5. Services and Amenities Available
Resorts, hotels, log cabins, or villas surround most ice fishing destinations. Here are the common amenities provided by most facilities.
- Different food and beverage options.
- Rent out day and sleeper fish house
- Rent out fishing equipment
- A fish cleaning hut
- Guide services
Remember, the services and amenities you get depend on the ice fishing destination you’ll be visiting and your budget.
If you have a trip to make and need to know where to go ice fishing, there are numerous fishing spots you can catch your favorite ice fish. The most common ice fishing spots include Silver Lake, Lake Champlain, Lake of the Woods, Devil’s Lake, Birch Lake, Lake Gogebic, and Lake Bonaparte.
Remember, the lake you choose to go fishing in depends on the fish species your looking for. Before venturing out, consider the local regulations, weather conditions, and seasonal patterns of the fish in that particular destination.
Also, check whether there are resorts and hotels near the water body you’ll be visiting and the services offered there. Ice fishing can be dangerous, so ensure you observe all the necessary measures before venturing out.