Guide to Ice Fishing

Of all the types of fishing, ice fishing may be the hardest one to explain to the uninitiated. Going out on a frozen lake in the coldest temperatures does seem a little out there! But actually, ice fishing is one of the most relaxing and rewarding forms of fishing.

It allows you to get all the way out to the centre of the lake without a boat, to bask in real silence and connect with the world, and to lure in the kind of catch you wouldn’t be able to get any other way.

If you're just starting out on your ice fishing journey, no matter what your experience level in open water,here are a couple things to keep in mind:

  • Bring an experienced companion along. Even if you’re an open water expert, ice fishing is a different beast entirely and it’ll be easier to pick up the nuances if you have someone who knows the terrain.
  • Select the right clothing. The weather is what really sets ice fishing apart, and you simply won’t be able to enjoy it if you’re not comfortable. So make sure you dress accordingly, and keep in mind that sitting out there on the ice will be colder than walking through snow or cold weather.
ice fishing catch

Ice Fishing Gear

The basics for the right gear for ice fishing is relatively simple: cold weather clothing, tackle and bait, and something to help you drill a hole in the ice safely. But that’s just the bare minimum.

If you want to do things right, here’s what you will need:

  • Specialist ice fishing jigging rod This is a smaller version of the traditional rod and reel, stretching no longer than 3-feet in length with a light action and a spinning reel. A specially designed ice fishing rod will be better suited to withstanding cold water, and will be less visible.
  • Live bait container
  • Terminal tackle such as line clippers, fish grabbers, and sinkers, etc.
  • Ice augur and skimmer
  • A Sled to carry your ice fishing equipment
  • Bucket, chair or ice shanty for you to perch on

Ice Fishing Techniques

If you’re looking to up your ice fishing game, it starts by knowing which species will respond to what technique and how to find them:

  • Rainbow trout will often prefer bait that is only a few feet below the surface.
  • Panfish such as bluegills and perch can be found consistently in the winter, but shouldn’t be underestimated. Use thin 2-pound test lines small hooks and small bait such as small shiners.
  • Largemouth and smallmouth bass will be lethargic, and move slowly beneath the ice, but will respond to jigging and occasionally, a well-placed bait.