Best 13 Ice Fishing Spoons – Tips and Techniques

Best 13 Ice Fishing Spoons

This article will list the best 13 ice fishing spoons. Spoons are very effective ice fishing lures as they can be presented vertically. They are available in a wide variety of sizes, shapes, and colors to imitate any forage that game fish feed on. Spoons will catch every species that feeds under the ice!

ice fishing spoons

There are quite a few options for anglers when it comes to choosing the best ice fishing spoon. Obviously, the spoon will be fished in a vertical presentation through the ice. Ice fishing spoons are available in sizes from tiny spoons for panfish to spoons 4” or longer for trophy northern pike, bass, lake trout, and burbot.

northern pike fishing

Follow Ana on Ice on Instagram

In most cases, ice fishing spoons will mimic wounded bait fish. The flash and vibration will call fish to the lure. Bright colors are very effective, as are gold and silver finishes. Successful anglers match the color or finish to the conditions. Dark and bright colors work best in low light conditions. Conversely, white, silver, and subdued finishes are better in clear water and sunny days.

crappie fishing

The best 13 ice fishing spoons are;

  • Acme Kastmaster spoon
  • Bay de Noc Sweedish Pimple spoon
  • Clam Leech Flutter spoon
  • Williams Whitefish spoon
  • Acme Little Cleo spoon
  • VMC Rattle Spoon
  • Lindy Quiver spoon
  • Bay de Noc Do Jigger spoon
  • PK Lures Flutter Fish Jigging spoon
  • Acme Phoebe spoon
  • Venom Outdoors 360 Glow spoon
  • Moonshine jigging spoon
  • Mepps Syclops spoon

This list of the best 13 ice fishing spoons will cover every situation that an angler will encounter when chasing all species of game fish through the ice.

Ice fishing with spoons; top techniques

walleye fishing

Anglers ice fishing with spoons use them similarly to a jig. The lure is lowered down to the desired depth, then the rod tip is raised up, causing the spoon to “jump”. The rod tip is lowered and the spoon flutters down. This action is usually what draws the strike as it realistically imitates a wounded or dying bait fish.

Anglers who would like to read more about ice fishing can purchase Capt Jim’s E-book, “A Complete Guide to Ice Fishing” for $6 by clicking on the title link.

Anglers need to vary the retrieve and depth to determine what will be the most productive on that particular day. A good approach is to start at the bottom and work the spoon up in the water column. A subtle presentation usually works best, though a very aggressive retrieve will be called for on days when fish are very active.

ice fishing spoons

Read more about Ice Fishing with Lures in this article by Capt Jim

The spoon can be used in conjunction with live bait to sweeten up the offering. A little taste and smell on the hook will often make the difference, especially on a tough day. Grubs, minnows, and nightcrawlers are all effective. Anglers targeting lake trout, pike, and burbot will often use a big chunk or strip of cut bait on a big spoon.

Best 13 ice fishing spoons

A spoon is basically a curved piece of metal with a hook in it. The shape and bend in the lure will determine the action that it has. While all ice fishing spoons are similar, there are differences between them. Therefore, each spoon will be briefly described below.

Acme Kastmaster spoon

kastmaster

Click link to shop Amazon for Kastmaster spoons

The Acme Kastmaster spoon is an excellent ice fishing spoon. It has a unique, dense design that sinks quickly, which is an advantage in strong current. Kastmaster spoons are available in many sizes from 1/32 ounce to several ounces. The plain, tiger glow, and flash tape models are available in the best sizes for ice fishing. The Tiger Glow line has the bright color finished that many anglers prefer. The Kastmaster spoon is now available in a new Tungsten model.

Bay de Noc Sweedish Pimple spoon

brown trout lures

The Bay de Noc Sweedish Pimple is a long and slender spoon. It is a good choice in clear water when anglers want a more aggressive presentation. It is available in 8 sizes and over a dozen colors and metallic finishes. The small versions are deadly on panfish while the larger models imitate ciscoes and other larger forage.

sweedish pimple chart

Click link to shop Amazon for Sweedish Pimple spoons

Clam Leech Flutter spoon

flutter spoon

The Clam Leech Flutter spoon is another popular and effective ice fishing spoon. There are several models in the line, from the 1/32 ounce panfish model up to ½ ounce. Most anglers opt for one of their many bright color finishes.

Click link to shop Amazon for Leech Flutter spoons

Williams Whitefish spoon

whitefish spoon

The Williams Whitefish spoon is a bit of a specialty lure. It is a larger, heavier spoon designed to mimic a wounded ciscoe and is used to target larger game fish including whitefish, burbot, lake trout, pike, and walleye. Anglers often add a strip or chunk of fresh cut fish. It works very well in deep water. It is available in three sizes and fifteen finishes.

Click link to shop Amazon for Williams Whitefish spoons

Acme little Cleo

little cleo spoon

The Acme Little Cleo spoon has a wide profile that makes it flutter seductively as it falls. It is an excellent choice in shallow water. These lures are available from 1/16 ounce to over an ounce. Anglers have a lot of choices as far as colors. The Glow series is very popular among anglers ice fishing.

Click link to shop Amazon for Little Cleo spoons

VMC Rattle spoon

vmc rattle spoon

The VMC Rattle Spoon has a brass chamber with rattles that emits a fish-calling action. It comes in four sizes and over a dozen fishes, mostly brightly colored. The combination of bright colors along with the rattles make this spoon an excellent choice in dirty water conditions. Ultra glow models will put out a glow for 15 minutes or so.

vmc rattle spoon chart

Click link to shop Amazon for VMC Rattle spoons

Lindy Quiver spoon

quiver spoon

The Lindy Quiver Spoon has a wide body and a unique design. It puts out a very productive action with very little effort by the angler. It is available in 1/16, 1/8, ¼, ounce sizes and a dozen colors and finishes.

Click link to shop Amazon for Lindy Quiver spoons

Bay de Noc Jigger spoon

jigger spoon

The Bay de Noc Jigger spoon was specifically designed for a vertical presentation. It has an elongated diamond shape. The spoon comes in several sizes, starting with the #1 1/16 ounce size, which is the most popular among anglers ice fishing. The bright colors are most effective.

Click link to shop Amazon for Jigger spoons

PK Lures Flutter Fish spoon

flutterfish spoon

The PK Flutter Fish Jigging Spoon is another excellent lure for a vertical presentation. It has a unique shape and an enticing action as it falls through the water column. It comes in 6 sizes, from 1/8 ounce to one once in 17 flashy color patterns and metallic finishes. Glowing eyes help attract game fish as well.

Click link to shop Amazon for Flutter Fish spoons

Acme Phoebe spoon

phoebe spoon

The Acme Phoebe spoon is an old school fishing lure that has been producing through the ice for decades. Anglers can choose from 1/12, 1/8, 1/6, ¼, and ½ ounce sizes and ten finishes. Gold is by far the most popular color. The Phoebe spoon has an excellt, subtle action in the water.

Click link to shop Amazon for Acme Phoebe spoons

Venom Outdoors 360 Glow spoon

venom spoon

 

The Venom Outdoors 360 Glow spoon is Ana’s personal favorite ice fishing spoon. It is long and slender, a shape many anglers fishing the “hard water” prefer. It has a Tungsten frame, rattles, and glows much longer underwater than other glow spoons do. It is available in four sizes and a bunch of terrific colors. Anglers can tip it with a grub for even more success.

Click link to shop Amazon for Venom Glow spoons

Moonshine Jigging spoon

moonshine jigging spoon

Moonshing Jigging spoons are known for their uniquely bright, flashy colors and erratic action in the water. Many actually glow. It is an “attractor” lure which will draw in curious game fish. It is available in ¼, 3/8, ½, and ¾ ounce sizes.

Click link to shop Amazon for Moonshine spoons

Mepps Syclops spoon

mepps psyclops spoon

Last, but certainly not least, on the list of the best 13 ice fishing spoons is the Mepps Syclops spoon. It is available in 5 sizes from 1/8 ounce to 1 ounce in weight. These spoons are available in some very bright and flashy color combinations. The 00 size is perfect for panfish and other species caught through the ice.

Click link to shop Amazon for Syclops spoons

In conclusion, this article on the best 13 ice fishing spoons will help anglers choose the correct spoon for every ice fishing situation.

 

5 Essential Ice Fishing Jigs – Pro Tips!

5 Essential Ice Fishing Jigs

This article will list the 5 essential ice fishing jigs. Jigs are by far the most effective ice fishing lures. This is due in part to the need for a vertical presentation. Most are colorful in order to attract the attention of game fish. Anglers often combine an ice fishing jig with live bait. This is an extremely effective technique!

ice fishing jigs

There are many different ice fishing jigs offered to anglers by lure manufacturers. The choice can be overwhelming. These options will be narrowed down in this article to the 5 best and most versatile lures.

Ice fishing jig types

Ice fishing jigs can basically be broken down into two categories; vertical and horizontal presented jigs. This is achieved by the location of the line tie as well as the weight placement. Some ice fishing jigs are even a bit of a hybrid, combining the two. Both styles can be effective, with horizontal jigs being the most popular ice fishing jigs used by anglers.

ice fishing with jigs

Follow Christina on Instagram

Many modern ice fishing jigs are made from Tungsten. This is a very dense material, allowing for decent weight in a very small packages. Ice fishing jigs can be purchased that are extremely light, 1/64 ounce and even lighter. Tungsten allows for that. Several ice fishing jigs have “keepers” which help keep both soft plastic and live baits on the hook better.

Anglers often associate ice with with jigs and panfish, and for good reason. These tiny lures are perfect for the small mouth of a bluegill or perch. Also, fish in the cold water usually do not require, or desire, a big meal. However, larger game fish will certainly take them as well.

5 essential ice fishing jigs

Click to shop Amazon for Quantum ice fishing rod and reel combos

“Fishing Lido Key is a participant in the Amazon Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to Amazon. As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases. ”

5 essential ice fishing jigs

Here is the list of 5 essential ice fishing jigs. These will cover every situation an angler ice fishing will encounter.

Anglers who would like to read more about ice fishing can purchase Capt Jim’s E-book, “A Complete Guide to Ice Fishing” for $6 by clicking on the title link.

ice fishing jigs

The 5 essential ice fishing jigs are;

  • VMC Neon Moon Eye jig
  • Northland Whistler jig
  • Clam Drop Kick jig
  • HT Enterprises Marmooska jig
  • Northland Tackle Bro Bug jig

Techniques for ice fishing with jigs

As mentioned earlier, jigs are favored by many anglers who go ice fishing. Jigs are perfect for a vertical presentation in deep water, whether through the ice or in open water. The angler can control the depth being worked, usually in conjunction with a sonar of some type.

ice fishing jigs

Jigs can be fished plain, with a soft plastic grub or body, with live bait, or any combination. A tiny jig with a soft plastic grub tipped with a waxie or mealworm is a deadly combination for just about all species. The jig and body add color and action while the grub provides taste and smell.

A bare jig head is a terrific vehicle to present a live bait, especially minnows and nightcrawlers. The jig head provides weight and flash along with a hook, all in one tidy unit. This allows anglers with a precise presentation and control of the offering.

ice fishing for crappie

Subtle presentations work best when ice fishing with jigs

In most cases, anglers using subtle, finesse presentations will be more successful when ice fishing with jigs. The metabolism of a fish slows down in the cold water, especially bluegill, bass, and panfish. Very subtle movements of the jig usually work best. Anglers can start at the bottom and work back to the surface, or work schools of fish seen on the sonar. Less really is more.

tip ups

There are exceptions to this rule, like in most forms of fishing. Trout and northern pike are quite active under the ice and will respond to a more aggressive presentation. The same applies to yellow perch, particularly when they are schooled up and become competitive. Larger jigs are also better for presenting larger live baits such as minnows to walleye, lake trout, and other species. Cut baits are effective through the ice and can certainly be fished on a jig as well.

Top ice fishing jigs

While most of the 5 essential ice fishing jigs are similar, there are characteristics of each that differentiate them from each other. Therefore, each jig will be covered in detail below.

VMC Neon Moon Eye jig

ice fishing jigs

The VMC Neon Moon Eye jig is an excellent ice fishing jig! It has a round, aspirin shaped head with a realistic holographic eye. This lure is available in several sizes and bright, fish-attracting color patterns. The hook is black nickle plated and strong. The jig eyelet location results in a horizontal presentation. It also has a keeper which helps hold both bait and soft plastic bodies in place.

moon eye jig chart

Click link to shop Amazon for VMC Neon Moon Eye jigs

Northland Whistler jig

walleye trolling lure

The Northland Whistler jig is one of the ice fishing jigs that is meant to be used on larger fish such as walleye and lake trout. It has a propeller which puts out a lot of flash and vibration. This makes it an excellent choice when visibility is limited. It works well with both live bait and soft plastic baits. The Whistler jig is available in 1/8, ¼, and 3/8 ounce sizes and a dozen colors.

Click link to shop Amazon for Whistler jigs

Clam Drop Kick jig

drop kick jig

The Clam Drop Kick jig is another very effective ice fishing jig. It was designed by legendary angler Dave Genz. It has a patented design with a 90 degree hook that is strong with a wide gap. The Clam jig also has a large tie on the eye. These result in a very good hook up ratio. Also, due to the design, the jig has a very defined action, as it “kicks” off to the side, thus the name. It also shows up very strongly on sonar units, making it easier to fish. Anglers can add a soft plastic bait, live bait, or both. This jig is available in twelve colors and in 1/32, 1/16, and 3/64 ounce sizes.

Click link to shop Amazon for Clam Drop Kick jigs

HT Enterprises Marmooska jig

marmooska jig

Click link to shop Amazon for Marmooska jigs

The Marmooska jig is another popular and effective ice fishing jig. It has a unique design that results in the hook pivoting as a fish takes it, resulting in a better hook up ratio, especially when the bite is light. The heads have a durable, high quality finish. It is available in several sizes and quite a few colors. It really works best for panfish with a live brub or piece of nightcrawler attached.

Northland Tackle Bro Bug jig

bro bug

Click link to shop Amazon for Bro Bug jigs

The Northland Tackle Bro Bug jig has a pointed head which results in a gliding, swimming action that attracts fish, especially when a subtle presentation is needed. It also has large, realistic eyes. The Bro Bug jig is tiny, being available in 1/72 and 1/64 ounce sizes. It has a wire keeper to help plastic and live baits stay on the hook. Northland also offers anglers two other ice fishing jig options in the Mud Bug and Gill-Getter models.

In conclusion, this article on the 5 essential ice fishing jigs will help anglers choose the best jig to use through the ice!

 

 

 

Ice Fishing with Wax Worms

Ice Fishing with Wax Worms

This article will cover ice fishing with wax worms. Many anglers associate wax worms and ice fishing with bluegill and other panfish, and for good reason. Wax worms are a terrific bait for all species of panfish through the ice and in open water. However, wax worms are not only limited to these diminutive game fish, but will catch larger species as well.

ice fishing spoons

A wax worm is the larvae of the wax moth, Galleria mellonella. It is an excellent ice fishing bait for several reasons. Wax worms are economical, easy to keep alive, readily available, and productive on a variety of species. This is everything and ice fishing angler is looking for in a live bait.

Presenting wax worms to game fish

Wax worms are most often fished in conjunction with an artificial lure. This is most often a jig, but wax worms can certainly be used with spoons as well. Part of the reason for this is just a matter of convenience; and artificial lure provides weight to get the bait down in the water column along with a hook.

wax worm

A tiny micro jig is a perfect vehicle for presenting a wax worm to panfish and other species. Tiny, brightly colored jigs will attract fish on their own. The addition of a wax worm makes for an outstanding combination. The jig provides the flash, weight, and hook while the wax worm adds scent and taste. Many larger game fish, especially largemouth bass, will take a small offering when ice fishing as their metabolism has slowed way down.

5 essential ice fishing jigs

Spoons are also excellent lures to combine with wax worms. Unlike other baits such as nightcrawlers and chunks of cut bait, the smaller wax worms can be added to the spoon without affecting the action of the lure. This can be critical as with spoons it is more about attracting the fish and using the wax worm to close the deal.

wax worm

Anglers can certainly fish wax worms on a small hook as well. This works best when panfish and other species are located in shallow water. The wax worm can be fished with a tiny split shot to get it down to the desired depth. A float can also be used, especially in water that is 6 feet deep or less.

Purchasing and handling wax worms

wax worms

Anglers have multiple options when it comes to purchasing wax worms. Bait shops that cater to anglers ice fishing will almost always have a good supply on hand. Larger retailers will also often stock them in the winter. Anglers can even buy them in bulk on Amazon and other online resources.

Anglers who would like to read more about ice fishing can purchase Capt Jim’s E-book, “A Complete Guide to Ice Fishing” for $6 by clicking on the title link.

Wax worms are easy to keep alive. Anglers really only need to keep them away from extreme cold or heat for any length of time and they will be fine. A carton of wax worms will stay alive simply in a coat pocket.

Click to shop Amazon for wax worms

Best rod and reel for ice fishing with wax worms

ice fishing with jigs

The best rod and reel for ice fishing with wax worms is in most cases going to be one that is on the very light side. As mentioned above, most anglers using wax worms are targeting bluegill and panfish as well as trout. For all of the species, a very light rod with 2 pound for pound line will get the job done. Anglers targeting larger species such as walleye will obviously need to bump up the tackle to something a bit heavier.

Click to shop Amazon for Quantum ice fishing rod and reel combos

“Fishing Lido Key is a participant in the Amazon Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to Amazon. As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases. ”

Ice fishing with wax worms

ice fishing jigs

Fishing with wax worms through the ice is fairly uncomplicated. The jig, spoon, or bare hook is adorned with a nice fat wax worm. Anglers often put the worm on inside out to increase the amount of bodily juices that are dispersed in the water. This is then lower down to the desired depth and then the rod tip is worked gentle, subtle twitches until a take occurs.

Panfish will often times be located in school suspended off the bottom. In these instances, the wax worm should be lower down to just above the school. Most fish prefer to feed from below. If no fish are seen on the sonar, letting the lure all the way down to the bottom can be an effective technique. Anglers fishing with spoons will often bounce the spoon a couple of times to create a little mud disturbance on the bottom. This will often attract curious game fish.

ice fishing for crappie

Ice fishing with wax worms will produce a variety of species

ice fishing spoons

The list of species that anglers will catch ice fishing with wax worms is long. Just about every fish that swims will take a well presented wax worm. Warm water species such as bluegill, panfish, and bass will require a slow, delicate presentation. Coldwater game fish that feed more actively such as trout will often respond to a more aggressive presentation.

Bluegill and panfish

Bluegill are a highly sought after species by anglers ice fishing with wax worms. They put up a terrific fight for their size and are fantastic eating. One great aspect of bluegill and other panfish is that once a school is located, the action can be fast. Anglers will do best to drill multiple holes and move around until the fish are found. A wax worm on a jig head is the top presentation.

Crappie

crappie fishing

Crappie are more often targeted by anglers using live minnows than wax worms. However, crop he will readily take a wax worm on a jig head or small spoon. As with other panfish species, angler should keep moving until an actively feeding school is found.

Yellow perch

Michigan yellow perch

Yellow perch are another favorite species for anglers fishing through the ice. They feed actively in colder water than other species of panfish and will often respond to larger lures and more aggressive retrieves. Both spoons and jigs are very effective when tipped with a wax worm.

Bass

ice fishing for bass

Both largemouth bass and smallmouth bass slow way down in the cold water under the ice. Anglers ice fishing with wax worms will catch some of the largest bass on very tiny offerings. These fish simply do not need to feed much this time of year. Micro jigs tipped with wax worms will catch both largemouth bass and smallmouth bass.

Trout

ice fishing for rainbow trout

All three major trout species, rainbow trout, brook trout, and brown trout, can be caught by anglers ice fishing with wax worms. Trout are another species that thrive in colder water and feed quite actively. Anglers will often find them higher in the water column then other species, even just a few feet below the ice no matter what the depth. A bright flashy spoon tipped with a wax worm is a tough combination to beat.

Walleye

tip ups

Walleye are prized by anglers. They grow fairly large, put up a decent fight, and are fantastic eating. While I will take a wide variety of baits and artificial lures. While most anglers specifically targeting walleye will use minnows and pieces of cut bait, they will certainly take a wax worm at times as well. A larger spoon with a wax worm on each prong of the treble hook is a good approach.

In conclusion, this article on ice fishing with wax worms will help anglers understand how to use these incredibly effective live baits!

 

Ice Fishing with Tip Downs, Tips and Techniques

Ice Fishing with Tip Downs, Tips and Techniques

This article will focus on ice fishing with tip downs. Tip downs are clever devices that hold a regular ice fishing rod and reel in place over a hole. They are an effective way for anglers ice fishing to present multiple offerings in different locations. Tip ups are mostly used by anglers targeting panfish and smaller game fish species, but can certainly be used on larger fish as well.

ice fishing with tip downs

Tip downs are devices used by anglers ice fishing that hold a rod and reel that presents a bait through the hole in the ice. Like tip ups, tip downs allow anglers to fish more than one spot at a time. When a fish strikes, the rod tip plunges down into the hole, thus the name. It is important to check local fishing regulations! They will vary greatly regarding hooks, baits, and number of lines allowed.

Anglers who would like to read more about ice fishing can purchase Capt Jim’s E-book, “A Complete Guide to Ice Fishing” by clicking on the title link.

Tip downs are advantageous because they allow anglers to fish multiple holes while still catching them on a regular ice fishing rod and reel. This is kind of the best of both worlds! Anglers ice fishing with tip downs are normally pursuing pan fish, crappie, and other smaller game fish species. These fish are better suited for tip downs as they generally don’t strike hard enough to pop the clip on a tip up.

ice fishing with tip down

Tip downs are excellent for anglers learning a new body of water. They allow multiple baits to be presented at different depths and locations. This will help anglers learn much more quickly the types of structure and depth that which fish are feeding. Tip downs are also very conducive to family fishing. Children can be distracted and play a bit in between bites.

Tip down options

ice fishing with a tip down

Tip downs are lightweight devices that are usually made of wood, plastic, or metal. They are very portable and set up quite quickly. As mentioned above, they use a conventional ice fishing rod and reel. One set, the rod is either horizontal or a bit above. When a fish strikes, the unit pivots and the rod tip dips down towards the hole. Thus the name “tip down”!

Click to read more about ice fishing tackle and gear

There are a wide variety of tip down units available to ice fishing anglers. Most opt for the type where any rod and reel can be used. This way, anglers can use the outfits that they already own. Sullivan ice fishing tip downs are an example of this. Some tip downs come with flags as well. However, it is very easy to tell when a fish takes a bait.

ice fishing basics

Click to shop Amazon for tip down units

“Fishing Lido Key is a participant in the Amazon Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to Amazon. As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases. ”

Setting up an ice fishing tip down

Once the hole is drilled, the tip down is set at that location. Anglers can use a live minnow or nightcrawler on a small hook with a split shot or a jig head to get it down in the water column. This works well for crappie and yellow perch as well as a variety of other game fish species. Micro jigs with a meal worm or wax worm are best for anglers chasing bluegill and panfish. Artificial lures alone are generally not productive as they require manipulation by the angler. A brightly colored ice fishing jig with a live bait is an excellent all round combination.

Anglers ice fishing with tip downs should not neglect dead or frozen bait as well. These can be particularly effective on larger species such as northern pike, walleye, and lake trout. Minnows that have dies can be very effective. Game fish will at times not want to chase a live bait, but will readily take a fresh dead minnow. Cut bait can be productive as well. Suckers, ciscoes, and shiners work well.

ice fishing tip down

While the bait should be placed close to the bottom, anglers should vary the depth that they are fishing with the various set ups. This way, anglers can quickly identify the depth that which fish are holding and feeding. It is important to keep an eye on your tip downs! It is not unusual for a fish to take the bait off of the hook unnoticed by the angler. Fishing a hook with no bait defeats the purpose of covering a lot of water!

There are several other nuances which will help anglers ice fishing with tip downs be more successful. It is very important to keep the hole clear of ice. Most often, very light line is used in this application. Sharp pieces of ice will quickly cut this very thin line.

ice fishing basics

Also, wind can be an issue when fishing with tip downs. The best approach is usually two point the tip of the rod right into the wind. This results in the best line management when dealing with a stiff breeze. Also, it is often a good idea to pack some snow around the base of the tip down when the wind is blowing.

Strategies for drilling holes when ice fishing with tip downs

The primary advantage to ice fishing with tip ups is the ability to fish several different spots can be fished at once. Therefore, strategically drilling the holes is important in order to maximize tip up placement. Ideally, anglers will fish several different depths in a fairly small area. Sloping points are an excellent example of this, as are channel edges. Anglers can research prior to the trip to get current information and fishing reports. Many anglers have good GPS waypoints from open water fishing, these are good places to start.

ice fishing auger

While it is good to cover several different depths and even cover types, it is important not to place the holes too far apart. This will make it more difficult to get to a rod quickly. Also, anglers may miss a few bites. Most experienced anglers ice fishing with tip downs keep the rods a hundred yards apart or less. Again, anglers need to check local regulations regarding the number of rods and baits that are legal to use.

Ice fishing anglers have a couple of options when it comes to drilling holes. Hand augers work fine for those fishing a hole or two on ice that is not too thick. However, serious anglers opt for some type of power auger. Electric units work well up to a foot or so. Serious anglers will choose a gas powered ice auger.

ice fishing auger

Click the link to shop Amazon for ice fishing augers

Sonar units are very helpful for anglers ice fishing with tip downs. They will help anglers locate structure such as drop offs along with fish-holding cover. They will also show schools of fish. Several manufacture units specifically designed for ice fishing applications.

ice fish finder

Click to shop Amazon for ice fishing sonar units

Ice fishing with tip downs for panfish

Tip downs work very well for anglers ice fishing for panfish. The light rods and baits along with the more subtle takes work well in conjunction with tip downs. Most of these smaller fish will not trip the clip on a tip up, those are just a bit too heavy.

ice fishing for bluegill and panfish

Anglers ice fishing for bluegill and panfish will do well to use a micro jig tipped with a grub of some type. Mealworms and wax worms are easy to keep alive and are readily available. A piece of nightcrawler works quite well, too.

The other bait most often used by anglers ice fishing with tip downs for panfish is a jig with a live minnow attached. The advantage that this brings is the chance to catch larger game fish such as walleye and pike. Live minnows are very effective on crappie and yellow perch. Larger brown and rainbow trout will take them as well.

crappie fishing

Anglers seeking larger species such as walleye, pike, lake trout, whitefish, burbot, and more will need to bump up the tackle a bit to handle the larger fish. In reality though, tip downs really are better suited to smaller fish on light tackle while tip ups are best for pike and larger fish.

In conclusion, this article on ice fishing with tip downs will help anglers catch more fish using this technique.

Ice Fishing Basics, How to get started

Ice Fishing Basics, how to get started.

This article, ice fishing basics, how to get started, will cover everything the angler needs to know to take his or her new equipment out on the ice and catch fish! Ice fishing is really not all that different from open water fishing. The main consideration is that anglers only have the opportunity to use a vertical presentation.

Anglers can read all about the ice fishing tackle and gear that they need in this article.

Understanding fish migrations when ice fishing

Anglers ice fishing must first decide where they are going to fish. Those that have a “home Lake” that they fish exclusively have that decision already made for them. Other anglers have a wide choice of bodies of water from which to choose. Fishing reports from local bait shops and online forums are a good resource to use for novice anglers getting started. Bait and tackle bought at local shops is money well spent as the advice you will get from these businesses is invaluable!

Anglers who would like to read more about ice fishing can purchase Capt Jim’s E-book, “A Complete Guide to Ice Fishing” by clicking on the title link.

ice fishing gear

While ice certainly hinders anglers from using boats, it does not at all change the migration patterns of fish below. The winter patterns are very similar to summer, except in reverse. Early in the ice fishing season, which is fall, fish are likely to be found quite shallow. As midwinter approaches, and the water gets even colder, fish will migrate to deeper holes, points, and main lake channels. The pattern will reverse itself as spring approaches.

Drilling ice fishing holes

One good strategy for novice ice anglers is to drill a dozen or so holes 10 feet apart. Ideally, these holes will be in multiple depths over quality, fish holding structure. Points are excellent spots to take this approach. This is especially true if they drop off into the main river channel. Drilling multiple holes like this allows anglers to cover a lot of water. They can also set up tip ups or tip downs in the holes that they are not actively fishing.

Holes will need to be cleaned out occasionally. This is where the skimmer comes into play. This will make fishing easier. One tip veteran ice anglers use is to keep some slush in the hole when fishing shallow. This can make a big difference when the fish are wary.

Ice fishing strategies

Early in the ice fishing season, weed beds and other structure in 10 to 15 feet of water are a good place to start. Anglers should drill the first couple holes there, then work out deeper. This is especially effective on a sloping flat or point. Holes should not be drilled at the same depth. Determining the depth at which fish are feeding at is a crucial aspect of ice fishing!

Successful ice fishing anglers do a lot of the work before the lake freezes. The same spots that produce in late spring and summer will produce in the winter as well. Anglers can use a hand held GPS unit to mark underwater structure such as drop-offs, bends in the channel, rock piles, weed beds, and more. The combination of cover and structure usually results in a productive fishing spot.

GPS units are not only for finding fish. They are important safety equipment as well. This is not really an issue on smaller lakes. However, on large bodies of water it is easy for anglers to get turned around in bad weather. Also, if a medical issue arises, help will know where to go.

Anglers can shop Amazon for  ice fishing rod and reel combos

“Fishing Lido Key is a participant in the Amazon Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to Amazon. As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases. ”

Structure is a physical change in the lake or river bottom. These include river channel edges and bends, points, flats, and drop-offs. These are things that pretty much do not change. Fish use structure as underwater roads on which they migrate. Cover consists of things such as fallen timber, rock piles, reefs, and weed beds. Fish use structure to migrate but cover to hide in and ambush prey.

Effects of weather when ice fishing

It surprises many anglers new to ice fishing that fish under the ice respond very similar to fish in open water. Early and late in the day are the best times to fish. Fish have fixed pupils. That means they can’t adjust to changing light conditions. They see best in low light conditions. That is why, generally speaking, fish bite better early, late, and on cloudy days.

Pressure systems greatly affect fish activity as well, just as in open water fishing. Fish will bite best as a cold front approaches. As the pressure starts to drop, fish will feed actively and aggressively. When it drops further, they will slow down. As the front moves through and the pressure rises up high, fish will often shut down. Those “post cold front” trips can be tough!

Wind and weather changes will also affect the current under the ice. This can drastically affect the bite! Only experience will help anglers understand how the wind direction and speed will affect fish habits in each body of water.

Ice fishing techniques

Now that the body of water has been chosen in the holes have been drilled, it is time to go fishing! One nice thing about ice fishing is that the actual fishing gear is really fairly simple. Anglers can choose to fish with live bait, artificial lures, or a combination of the two. This latter choice is often times the best as it combines the best of both worlds; the flash and movement of and artificial lure with the feel and taste of live bait.

ice fishing for yellow perch

Ice fishing with jigs

For most anglers ice fishing, a jig is the best choice when getting started. Quality jig heads are very light, brightly colored, with a very sharp hook. One of the best jigs to use are VMC Neon Moon Eye jig heads. They are manufactured with a very thin shank. They also have a bait holder. These two factors combine to help both live and artificial baits stay on the hook. Live bait will also remain lively for a longer period of time.

ice fishing basics

 

The VMC Neon Moon Eye jig has a couple other advantages as well. It’s slender design cuts through the water, making it a great choice when fishing in current. Finally, the glowing head helps game fish find the bait. This is especially helpful in low light conditions when fish bite best!

“Fishing Lido Key is a participant in the Amazon Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to Amazon. As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases.”

It is important to match the jig to the species being sought after. Tiny jigs are best used for panfish. Conversely, larger baits will produce walleye and pike. Jigs are very effective and many anglers prefer them over live bait for both the convenience and productivity. The latest grubs are extremely realistic with their 3-D technology.

Fishing the jig

The technique used for fishing a jig under the ice is fairly simple. The angler opens the bail and the jig is allowed to fall through the water column to the bottom. Subtle movements are used to hop the jig very gently up off of the bottom. In this frigid water, the fishes metabolism has slowed.

A fast-moving, erratic action will not produce in most cases. The old saying “if you think you’re moving it slow enough, cut your speed in half, and you’re probably just about right” is a good philosophy.

After the jig has been worked right on the bottom for a fair amount of time, It can be slowly worked up through the water column. Tapping the jig gently on the bottom will help game fish find the lure. This is especially true for anglers seeking walleye.

Many fish will be found suspended in the water column, not just right on the bottom. This is a situation where a fish finder can be invaluable. Anglers can actually see the jig working and then see fish rise up to take. It is kind of like a fishing video game!

ice fish finder

Click to shop Amazon for an ice fishing fish finder

Ice fishing with spoons and plugs

northern pike ice fishing

The same approach can be used for anglers using other artificial lures as well. Small specially designed hard baits such as the Rapala Jigging Rap will produce fish. Often times these lures will attract larger game fish. Spoons can also be fished in a similar manner. They come in a wide variety of sizes from tiny are designed for panfish to larger spoons which will fool a big walleye or northern pike.

Anglers can read more about ice fishing with lures in this article.

Ice fishing with live bait

Live bait is certainly quite productive when chasing fish under the ice. The most commonly used live baits are wax worms, maggots, grubs, nightcrawlers, and minnows. In areas where ice fishing is popular, these are readily available at local shops. With the exception of minnows, most live bait is easy to store and keep alive.

ice fishing gear

Anglers ice fishing with live bait can fish them on a bare hook or a jig head. As mentioned above, the jig head is a very convenient device for presenting live bait as it has the weight in the hook all in one unit. Anglers can use a hook and a tiny split shot as well. At times a float is used to suspend the live bait at a determined depth.

Commercial baits produce as well

There are also many prepared baits that are available. The main advantage to these baits is the convenience. In some respects, this goes for fishing with artificial lures as well. The GULP line of baits kind of bridges the two. They are artificial lures but are heavily scented as well.

Often times, once a depth that the fish are feeding at is found, that pattern will produce fish and other spots as well. Most fish species tend to school up fairly tightly in the winter. This means that anglers will have to move around quite a bit in search of fish at times. However, once a school of fish is located, the action can be fantastic.

Fish finders are useful ice fishing tools

Fish finders are another excellent tool that anglers can use to increase their success. Often times patient anglers can use the fish finder to determine how a fish wants the lure or bait. By noticing how fish react, anglers can adjust the presentation to draw a strike. This can take a while, so patience is required.

Panfish are often times easy to locate on the fish finder. They will usually be suspended, often times relating to some type of structure, cover, or break line. Larger predators such as pike will show up as larger marks. Walleye can be tricky as they often hug the bottom.

Ice fishing with tip downs

Tip downs are another piece of equipment that anglers can use when ice fishing. These devices allow a rod and reel or line to be fished unattended. Live bait is normally used. When a fish strikes, the device pivots due to the weight of the fish pulling down. The rod tip will usually dip down into the hole that is being fished. Tip downs allow anglers to fish more holes at one time. This can certainly aid in locating fish.

While it may sound boring, fishing with tip downs is actually a lot a fun! It is a great way to introduce youngsters to the sport of ice fishing. They can play in the snow or chase the dog around while waiting for a fish to strike. When the bite is on and multiple tip downs are going off at once, it can be great fun as everyone scurries around trying to be the first one to get to the bent rod!

Ice fishing with tip ups

Tip ups are similar to tip down in that they can be left alone to “fish” themselves. Tip ups come in many different styles. However, there are two main types; round tip ups and wooden tip ups. Round tip ups cover the hole so it does not freeze up. This works great for anglers that want to do less “supervising” of their hole. For the most part, these anglers are seeking larger fish such as northern pike and lake trout.

Wooden tip ups require tending to much more than the round tip ups do. The hole will freeze up. These rigs have larger spools which are best for deeper water. Live bait is used since the rig fishes unattended. The best approach is to hook the bait behind the dorsal fin. It will be more lively and appear to the game fish to be fleeing. This will trigger more strikes.

In conclusion, this article on ice fishing basics will help novice anglers be more successful when ice fishing!

Ice Fishing with Lures, a Comprehensive Guide

Ice Fishing with lures

This subject of this post is ice fishing with lures. While many anglers enjoy ice fishing with live bait, more and more are using lures to catch fish. Artificial lures do have a couple of advantages over live bait. Also, many anglers combine both live bait and lures. This is really the best of both worlds!

ice fishing with lures

The main advantage the anglers ice fishing with lures have over those fishing with live bait is convenience. Bait needs to be purchased and kept alive. Artificial lures sit in the tackle box, ready to fish at any time. While some live baits are pretty easy to keep alive, minnows and other baits require more time and effort.

There are many effective and productive ice fishing lures. However, there are some that stand above the rest. The following list of the top 10 ice fishing lures will cover every situation than an anglers ice fishing with lures will face.

crappie fishing

The top 10 ice fishing lures are;

  • VMC Neon Moon Eye Jig

  • Rapala Jigging Rap

  • Clam jig

  • Marmooska jig

  • Chubby Darter

  • Bro Bug jig

  • Sweedish Pimple spoon

  • Kastmaster spoon

  • Clam Leech flutter spoon

  • Rat-L-Trap

Anglers who would like to read more about ice fishing can purchase Capt Jim’s E-book, “A Complete Guide to Ice Fishing” by clicking on the title link.

Lures can also trigger strikes when fish are not feeding. The flash and vibration of a lure may excite a fish that is otherwise reluctant to take a live bait. Anglers do need to be subtle with the action they impart to a lure, as fish do slow down in the cold water. Jigs are the top ice fishing lure, with spoons and plugs being second and third.

ice fish finder

Click to shop Amazon for an ice fishing fish finder

Ice fishing tackle when using lures

The same rods and reels that anglers use when ice fishing with live bait work fine when presenting lures. Anglers chasing panfish will do best keeping the line as light as possible. 2 lb test is often used. As the quarry increases in size, so should the line size. However, the water is very clear and anglers should go with the lightest line possible.

ice fishing

Anglers can shop Amazon for  ice fishing rod and reel combos

“Fishing Lido Key is a participant in the Amazon Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to Amazon. As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases. ”

Anglers can read an article on ice fishing tackle and gear to get more information.

ice fishing tackle and gear

Lure selection

Ice fishing lures come in several types along with many colors and sizes. Lures designed to catch panfish are tiny! Larger lures are aimed at walleye, northern pike, and other larger game fish. Jigs are by far the most popular lure used by anglers ice fishing. Jig heads are often used plain to present live baits. Spoons are another very popular lure. Plugs are the final lure type used by anglers ice fishing with lures.

ice fishing jigs

Ice fishing jigs

Quality ice fishing jig heads are very light, brightly colored, with a very sharp hook. Jigs come in a myriad of sizes, shapes, and colors. However, they all basically work the same. The jig head consists of a hook with a heavier head molded in near the eye. Tungsten is often used as it is very dense. The head is often brightly colored. The weight of the head determines how fast it will sink and move in the water. It also gives the lure the action for which it gets its name. A grub body is added to the jig to complete the lure.

ice fishing for bluegill and panfish

Many anglers use a bare jig head in conjunction with live bait. This can be done when seeking bluegill using wax worms on a light jig head. Small pieces of nightcrawler can be used as well. A minnow can be used for crappie and other game fish.

Most anglers ice fishing with lures buy the jig heads and grub bodies separately. Every angler has his or her favorite bait. Some have body shapes that do not resemble anything found in the wild. Yet, they undulate seductively and catch fish! Color combinations are endless, as are jig head and body choices. There are many quality jig manufacturers. Some of the best are small companies found in local shops. Several popular options are listed below.

ice fishing for rainbow trout

VMC Neon Moon Eye jigs

VMC Neon Moon Eye jig heads are excellent ice fishing lures. They are manufactured with a very thin shank. Moon Eye jigs also have a bait holder tab. These two factors combine to help both live and artificial baits stay on the hook. Live bait will also remain lively for a longer period of time.

Fishing Lido Key is a participant in the Amazon Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to Amazon. As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases.”

The VMC Neon Moon Eye jig has a couple other advantages over some other jigs as well. It has a slender design which cuts through the water. This makes it a great choice when fishing in current. The glowing head helps game fish find the bait, this is especially helpful in low light conditions when fish bite best!

Clam jigs

Clam manufactures several very productive ice fishing jigs. Their lures are made of Tungsten, which is very dense. They sink quickly despite having a small profile. The Clam XL and XXL are good examples of this. These Clam jigs hang at a 45 degree angle with larger than average hooks. The larger hooks result in better hook up ratios when using larger soft plastics or live baits. They are available in a wide range of sizes and colors.

The Clam Drop Kick was designed by Dave Genz. It has a unique and tantalizing action that pan fish in particular can not resist. It also has a flat top, making it easier to see on a fish finder. The Drop Kick has a large hook with a 90 degree eye. This results in most fish being hooked and landed.

Marmooska jigs

The Marmooska jig is a great all round jig, especially for pan fish. It has an offset designed head that gives anglers great control while also producing a great fish-catching action. The Marmooska jig pivots, which increases hook-ups and landed fish. The hook is very light wire. It is available in multiple sizes and colors.

Bro Bug jigs

The Bro Bug jig is another extremely effective pan fish and bluegill jig. It has a long shank and a barbless wire bait collar. This makes it an excellent choice when presenting live bait like wax worms. It is available in tiny sizes, starting at 1/72 of an ounce! They can make a difference when the bite is tough. The Bro Bug was designed to mimic larvae that hatches on the bottom, something bluegill and other species feed on under the ice.

Ice fishing spoons

Ice fishing spoons have been around for a long time. They continue to be effective to this day. Spoons come in a variety of sizes. While tiny spoons do catch pan fish, most anglers use spoons when chasing larger game fish species. Spoons flutter as they slowly sink, producing flash and vibration.

walleye fishing

Spoons will catch fish throughout the water column. Most bites occur as the bait falls, seemingly helpless. Fish will take the bait right on the bottom as well, particularly walleye. Spoons are easy to see on a fish finder. Anglers should work the bait just above any fish marked on the machine. Silver and gold are the most popular finishes, though painted spoons are popular as well.

Click to read this article on the best ice fishing spoons

Spoons can be used with live bait as well. In most cases, anglers ice fishing with lures will use a small piece of nightcrawler, wax worm, or meal worm to sweeten up the hook a but. One underutilized technique is to use a small strip of cut bait on a spoon. This can be extremely effective for pike and other large game fish. Dead minnows can be used as well. Some top spoons are listed below.

Sweedish Pimple spoon

The Sweedish Pimple is a classic ice fishing spoon. It is particularly known to be effective on walleye and trout. For many anglers ice fishing with lures, the conversation starts, and ends, with this spoon. The design is time-proven and has not changed much. However, it is now offered in many different sizes and finishes. They are even available with rattles.

Kastmaster spoon

The Kastmaster by Acme is another old school ice fishing spoon that has fooled countless fish over the years. Silver, gold, and prism tape spoons are the most productive, though many other colors are available as well. 1/12 ounce to 3/8 ounce Kastmaster spoons will catch just about every species available to anglers ice fishing with lures.

Clam Leech Flutter Spoon

The Clam Leech Flutter Spoon is a heavy, fast sinking bait with a lot of action. It gets it’s name as it resembles a leech. It is an excellent spoon when fish are aggressive and works well both plain and tipped. Walleye and yellow perch in particular fall prey to this lure. It is available in a dozen different finishes.

Ice fishing plugs

Anglers also use plugs when ice fishing. While plugs in open water are generally not used in a vertical presentation, specially designed ice fishing plugs will produce fish. These lures have the line tie in the center and when jigged up fall in a circular, swimming manner. They do imitate a wounded bait fish.

ice fishing for walleye

Ice fishing plugs come in a wide range of sizes. The smallest versions will catch panfish. However, most anglers use plugs when trying to catch larger game fish species. Some of the best ice fishing plugs are listed below.

Rapala Jigging Rap

The conversation about ice fishing plugs starts with the Rapala Jigging Rap. It is a long time favorite that has been producing fish for many decades. The center tie and rear lip result in an erratic, circular swimming action when jigged. Smaller #2 and #3 sized Jigging Raps will fool perch. Anglers seeking larger game will do better using the #7 size Rapala Jigging Rap.

Chubby Darter

The Chubby Darter is another ice-fishing legend. Anglers will find it to be an effective vertical ice fishing lure. The Darter has a slow sink rate in the water. The unique shape of the lure results in a tantalizing swimming action that draws strikes. The Chubby Darter is a favorite among ice anglers, being effective for catching walleye, perch, bass, crappie, and pike. The Chubby Darter is available in 1 3/8- and 1 ¾-inch models and 6 patterns.

Rat-L-Trap

The Bill Lewis Rattletrap is an often overlooked ice fishing lure. Well known to open water anglers, the smaller versions such as the Tiny Trap can be very effective under the ice. They are an aggressive lure and work best when fish are active and willing to chase a bait.

Tips for ice fishing with lures

If there is one mistake anglers ice fishing with lures make it is to be too aggressive in the presentation. Fish metabolism slows greatly in the frigid water. They will be spooked off of a drastically gyrating lure! Subtle, gentle movements produce the best results. There are times that no action works best. This is referred to as “dead sticking” and is a tactic used by veteran ice anglers. It often works best with a piece of bait on the lure.

walleye fishing

Anglers should use the lightest line possible. Many will go as low as 2 lb test when chasing pan fish in gin clear water. Serious ice fishing anglers opt for flourocarbon line. It is expensive, but sinks and in virtually invisible in the water. Flourocarbon line also stretches less than monofilament, resulting in better hook ups and more fish landed.

Anglers should adjust the size of the lure to the fish being sought. While larger fish can be taken on tiny lures, the larger sized lures will fool larger game fish. Conversely, bluegill and panfish anglers will do best with the tiniest of lures.

Using lures with live bait when ice fishing

Many anglers combine live bait and artificial lures. This can be an extremely effective presentation! It is best to go conservative when adding live bait to artificial lures. All that is really needed is just a little taste. Too large a pice will hamper the action of the lure. Anglers fishing with live bait on a bare jig head can be more generous. A live minnow and jig is a proven combination on a wide variety of species. Most anglers targeting panfish will add a grub of some sort to sweeten the hook.

In conclusion, this article on ice fishing with lures will help anglers catch more fish on artificial baits through the ice!

Ice Fishing with Live Bait, Tips and Techniques

Ice Fishing With Live Bait

In this post we will cover ice fishing with live bait. In cold water, the metabolism of fish slows down dramatically. Most do not need to feed as often and do not feed as aggressively. Cold water species such as trout do remain quite active. While artificial lures will catch plenty of fish under the ice, many anglers have more confidence fishing with live bait.

ice fishing with live bait

There are obvious reasons why live bait produces for anglers ice fishing. Why try to duplicate the real thing when you can use the real thing? One of the great advantages of artificial lures is that anglers can cover more water. This really is not an issue when ice fishing. Anglers can not cast over water, since they are fishing through a hole in the ice.

Anglers who would like to read more about ice fishing can purchase Capt Jim’s E-book, “A Complete Guide to Ice Fishing” by clicking on the title link.

However, one common and very productive technique is to combine both live bait and artificial lures when ice fishing. The most popular ice fishing lure is the jig. Anglers can use a bare jig head to use with live bait. They can also “tip” a jig, spoon, or plug with live bait to increase its effectiveness.

ice fishing with live bait

Tackle and rigging for ice fishing with live bait

The same basic rods and reels that anglers have been using when ice fishing for decades work fine when ice fishing with live bait. Anglers will do best by using the lightest line possible given the situation they are fishing and the species being pursued. Many anglers go as light as 2 pound test line when chasing bluegill and other pan fish under the ice.

Anglers can read more about ice fishing tackle in this article.

ice fishing for crappie

Probably the most popular method of live bait fishing under the ice is using a jig head with live bait. Jig heads combine the hook and weight in one tidy little unit. Most ice fishing jig heads are quite brightly colored, which serves to help attract the fish as well. Anglers can also attach a soft plastic grub body to the jig head and then tip the lure. The same approach will apply to other artificial lures as well.

Anglers can shop Amazon for  ice fishing rod and reel combos

“Fishing Lido Key is a participant in the Amazon Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to Amazon. As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases.”

ice fish finder

Click to shop Amazon for an ice fishing fish finder

There are times when anglers will do best fishing a standard live bait hook. This is generally done when fish are finicky. Sometimes the bait fluttering down into the water column in a natural manner is the presentation required to draw strike. A small selection of hooks, split shot, and floats should be in every ice fishing tackle box.

ice fishing for yellpow perch

Best live baits for ice fishing

Anglers have quite a few choices when it comes to ice fishing with live bait. The top ice fishing baits include wax worms, minnows, nightcrawlers, mealworms, and leeches. While there are some other exotic live baits, these are the most popular ones that are the easiest to obtain and have proven to be productive.

Waxworms

Wax worms are perhaps the most popular live bait for anglers ice fishing. This is particularly true for those pursuing bluegill and other pan fish. However, wax worms will catch just about every species. These are very popular baits and most tackle shops that cater to anglers ice fishing will keep a good supply on hand. They are also available at pet shops and can be purchased online.

ice fishing for crappie

Wax worms are the larval form of a bee moth. They average three quarters of an inch to 1 inch long. They are usually white. Wax worms hold up quite well in cold weather. When not fishing, anglers should store them at room temperature. They can be kept alive for a month or two if handled in this manner. However, they can die if exposed to freezing temperatures for very long.

Wax worms are not a natural forage for fish. However, for whatever reason, fish cannot resist them! While panfish are usually the main quarry of ice anglers, other species will hit them as well. Larger species such as walleye and trout in particular will fall prey to a well presented wax worm.

ice fishing for bluegill and panfish

Wax worms are most often presented on a tiny jig head. This just seems to be the combination that fish like best. Tiny jigs as light as 1/64 of an ounce with small hooks will fool yellow perch, bluegill, and other pan fish. They can be used to tip a jig and grub combo as well as spoons and other lures. Wax worms can be fished on a bare hook, though this is not done very often.

Nightcrawlers

Nightcrawlers are a terrific and productive freshwater fishing bait for just about every species that swims. They are just as productive for anglers ice fishing as they are when used during the open water. Walleye, trout, bass, pan fish and more will delightfully take a nice lively nightcrawler!

ice fishing for northern pike

Nightcrawlers are easily obtained most bait shops. They can be purchased online as well. In the warmer months, anglers can catch their own. Nightcrawlers will stay alive a long time at room temperature or a little below. They will die if exposed to temperatures that are too cold or too hot. Nightcrawlers are usually kept in a bed of top soil or dirt.

Nightcrawlers can be fished on a live bait hook as well as on a jig. Often times, allowing the nightcrawler to slowly descend through the water column on a hook with no weight or a tiny split shot is the best presentation. Those pursuing walleye will do well to fish them on a jig head right on the bottom, which is where they feed. Anglers chasing tasty pan fish will do best pitching off a small piece of nightcrawler. Anglers do not need to use a very large piece of bait in this situation. Finally, a small piece of nightcrawler can be used to tip artificial lures.

Minnows

Big fish eat little fish, it is a basic fishing fact. This is true for anglers ice fishing with live bait as well. A helpless minnow that is struggling on the hook will attract a variety of game fish. Minnows are the favored bait of crappie anglers. Northern pike, walleye, lake trout, and bass will also take a well presented live minnow.

northern pike ice fishing

Live minnows are available at most tackle shops that cater to anglers that are ice fishing. Shiners, suckers, and fathead minnows are the most popular. Minnows are a bit more difficult to keep alive then are some of the other live baits. Special bait bucket with aerators will keep them frisky all day. Dead minnows will produce, at times even better than live bait. However, generally speaking, healthy and active live baits are the best choice.

Small minnows are best for anglers chasing crappie and trout. The minnow should be between one and 2 inches long. Anglers chasing larger game fish can step up the size of the bait. A northern pike will take a minnow as long as 6 inches! It is important to match the hook to the size of the bait as well. A light wire #6 hook is a good choice for anglers crappie fishing.

ice fishing for brook trout

Some anglers will use a float to suspend the live minnow at the desired depth. The resistance of the float can also cause the minnow to swim frantically. This will often times trigger a strike. Anglers can go up in size from there with the size of the bait being used.

Hooking the minnow properly is crucial to success

Many anglers ice fishing with minnows hook them incorrectly. Hooking minnows through the lips works well in open water fishing. However, it will quickly kill the bait when ice fishing. Also, since it is a vertical presentation, the minnow will appear unnatural. The best choice is to hook the minnow in the back halfway between the tail and the dorsal fin. This will keep the bait frisky and alive. It will also cause the bait to swim away, putting out distress signals. This will often trigger a bite.

ice fishing for lake trout

Minnows can also be used in conjunction with an artificial lure. When using a jig, the minnow can be hooked through the back and lowered to the bottom. This can be a productive method to take walleye. Minnows can also be used to tip a spoon as well. Most bait shops have a selection of minnows. Anglers should choose the minnow that matches the area being fished as well as the species being sought. Fat head minnows are best for river mouths. Emerald and golden shiners are usually best for deeper waters in lakes.

Minnows are often the the bait of choice for anglers using tip ups and tip downs. Since this method of fishing does not require the angler to attend to the hole, the bait needs to supply the action. Minnows do that quite well. Also, most anglers using tip ups and tip downs are in pursuit of larger game fish such as pike, walleye, lake trout, and more. A large, live minnow is often the best bait in this application.

Mealworms

Mealworms are another excellent live bait used by anglers ice fishing. They are the larval stage of a darkling beetle. They are generally short and fat, rarely exceeding 1 inch in length. Mealworms are favored especially by pan fish anglers. However, trout will greedily devour them as well. Due to their size, mealworms are perfect for tipping a jig or other artificial lure.

ice fishing for panfish

Mealworms are bit more difficult to keep alive in the cold. For that reason, they tend to be more popular towards the end of the ice fishing season. They are available at local tackle shops and can also be purchased online. Some pet shops also keep them in stock. They should be kept at room temperature and will die if exposed to freezing temperatures.

Leeches

Leeches are not used very often by anglers ice fishing with live bait. The primary reason for this is that they tend to curl up in a ball in cold water. However, anglers have learned a little trick. By keeping the leeches and a refrigerator for a period of time, they can acclimate to the cold and then be used as live bait under the ice. This does take a little more time and effort, but the results can be worth it.

Other ice fishing baits

There are a few other choices for anglers ice fishing with live bait. These include salmon eggs, cut bait, and commercially prepared baits such as Berkeley power bait and GULP. Salmon eggs are particularly effective on trout and white fish. Anglers can fish them on a weighted hook or and artificial lure. Sometimes color does make a difference, angler should keep experimenting until a productive pattern emerges.

ice fishing for rainbow trout

Cut bait is often overlooked by anglers ice fishing. There are often times when lethargic fish would rather not chase a live bait. In these instances, a freshly dead minnow or fresh piece of cut bait can be much more productive. The best approach is to fish the piece of bait right on the bottom with no action. Artificial lures can be tipped with a piece of cut bait as well.

There are numerous commercially available prepared baits as well. The main advantage of these baits is the convenience. While not technically live bait, they are fish the same way and can be as productive at times. These include the Berkeley power bait, ice nuggets, and more. They can be stored in the tackle box for a very long time.

Ice fishing techniques when using live bait

Ice fishing with live bait is fairly basic. However, as with any other type of fishing, there are nuances that will spell the difference between success and failure. If there is one mistake anglers make when ice fishing with live bait, it is giving the bait too much action. As mentioned above, the metabolism of fish in cold water is very slow. They will not be in a mood to chase down a bait. Also, it is just not natural looking in that cold water.

Anglers fishing live bait on a jig head will do well to let the bait slowly float to the bottom with the bail open. If at any point the line stops moving, speeds up or even twitches, the angler should close the bail and quickly reel until tight. If no strike occurs on the fall, the bait should be left to sit on the bottom. Gently tapping the jig head up and down on the bottom will often times draw a walleye or other fish to the bait. Patience can be required as it can take 10 minutes or more for the fish to commit to the bait.

Artificial lures such as spoons and jigs can also be tipped with live bait. The same basic approach applies. Anglers should let the spoon or plug flutter down to the bottom naturally. Suspended fish will often hit the bait on the way down. If anglers are marking fish on a fish finder, it is best to work the lure slightly above the fish. Most fish feed up as opposed to down. A subtle jigging motion will generally be more productive than an aggressive one.

In conclusion, this article on ice fishing with live bait should help anglers catch more fish through the hard water!

Ice Fishing for Northern Pike, Tips to Succeed

Ice Fishing for Northern Pike

The subject of this article will be ice fishing for northern pike. Northern pike are one of the most popular freshwater species pursued by ice fishermen for several reasons. One, they grow very large and are one of the heaviest fish that can be taken through the ice. Two, they are a true coldwater species. This means that they remain active under the ice. Finally, they are much more aggressive than many other species that anglers catch through the ice.

Northern pike can be taken by anglers ice fishing with both artificial lures and live and frozen bait. Since pike generally prefer a larger meal, bigger baits such as jigs, spoons, and jigging plugs are the best choice for anglers who prefer to fish with artificial lures. These are generally worked more aggressively than when fishing for other species such as walleye. Pike are usually more active and comfortable in the cold water.

Anglers who would like to read more about ice fishing can purchase Capt Jim’s E-book, “A Complete Guide to Ice Fishing” by clicking on the title link.

Live and frozen minnows work very well for pike as well. These include but are not limited to suckers, shiners, and where legal panfish. Experienced anglers will often freeze their leftover live minnows and use as bait on the next trip. During very cold water when pike tend to slow down a bit, frozen baits can often be more productive as the pike does not have to chase them down.

ice fishing for northern pike

Ice fishing for northern pike; tackle and equipment

Many anglers ice fishing for northern pike do so with the rod and reel. Those that do need to beef the tackle up a bit as these fish grow quite large. Most anglers opt for 20 pound braided line when fishing in shelters. Many opt for 8 pound to 10 pound monofilament line when fishing in exposed weather as the line is just easier to manage.

Anglers can read more about ice fishing tackle and gear in the link to that article.

A leader of some sort is usually used. It can be either steel or fluorocarbon, depending on angler preference and conditions. Most anglers have gone away from steel leaders when fishing with lures as they have found that this results in more strikes. Some lures will be lost, but the trade-off is usually worth it. Anglers fishing tip ups with live or frozen bait will often stick with a wire leader.

Anglers can shop Amazon for  ice fishing rod and reel combos

pike fishing

“Fishing Lido Key is a participant in the Amazon Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to Amazon. As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases. ”

Many anglers ice fishing for northern pike use tip ups. In fact, more northern pike are landed by anglers using tip ups than all other species combined. Larger live and dead baits are usually the most productive baits for catching pike. This makes it a natural to use tip ups when pursuing them.

ice fishing for northern pike

Locating northern pike under the ice

Once located, northern pike are not all that difficult to get to bite in most instances. This is especially true early and late in the season when they are quite aggressive. The key to anglers ice fishing for northern pike having success is locating fish. This may sound obvious. However, understanding their migrations and movements is more important with pike than some other species.

ice fishing gear

Pike will be found very shallow early in the ice fishing season. As soon as there is enough safe ice to fish, anglers can find them in shallow water. Large weedy coves are excellent spots to try. It cannot be stressed enough however, that anglers need to put safety first and not venture out into ice that is too thin!

Forage species will still be present in shallow water early in the ice fishing season. This is the reason that northern pike will still be found there. Pike will feed on bluegill and other panfish, suckers, shiners, and other small fish. This bite will last until the water gets too cold and the bait fish move off into deeper water.

Weed edges where shallow grass beds drop off into deeper water are prime spots early in the ice fishing season. The same spots that produce northern pike for anglers fishing the open water just before the freeze should produce once the ice thickens up as well

Mid winter northern pike tactics

Many anglers ice fishing for northern pike choose to stop fishing for them mid winter when the bite slows down. However, persistent anglers will often find that this is when the largest fish are to be caught. It is more difficult to locate them and anglers must move around in search of northern pike.

Structure and depth changes are the key to locating large northern pike in midwinter. Main river channels and sloping points with significant drop-offs are prime spots. This is especially true if some type of cover such as boulders or fallen timber is present.

ice fish finder

Click to shop Amazon for an ice fishing fish finder

Deep holes are another prime spot for anglers ice fishing for northern pike. Deep holes will concentrate insect larvae. This will attract minnows which of course in turn will bring in the game fish species. Deep holes that have adjacent cover such as boulders and fallen timber are most certainly prime spots to ice fish for northern pike in the middle of winter.

While pike found in shallow water will often be caught in the middle of the water column, pike in deeper water are more likely to hug the bottom. The primary reason for this is that the structure is located there. Seldom will anglers find weed beds in water this deep. Therefore, pike will be relating to structure on the bottom.

Strategies for drilling holes

Successful anglers ice fishing for northern pike generally have a strategy in mind before heading out to the lake. Many do their homework on the lake before it freezes and use a quality GPS unit to mark likely ice fishing spots. Modern apps and websites can also provide anglers a wealth of knowledge and information.

ice fishing

The best approach is usually to drill holes in a grid or zigzag pattern, concentrating on depth changes and submerged cover such as weed beds, rock piles, and submerged timber. Once a productive depth is found, pike will normally be found in a similar depth throughout the lake. Anglers can then concentrate on that depth to maximize their results.

Choosing the best pike waters to fish

Anglers ice fishing for northern pike have a choice to make when choosing a lake. Some lakes are better when it comes to numbers and action, while others are known for producing trophy northern pike. Ideally, there is a lake that offers both. However, this is usually not the case. Experience, DNR reports, and information from local bait shops and anglers are great sources of information.

Northern pike are the ultimate ambush predator. This is one reason why weed beds are so productive. The northern pike’s camouflage allows them to easily blend in to submerged vegetation. However, this habit continues in deeper water as well. Seldom will northern pike be found in open water. They will almost always relate to some type of structure, be it a channel edge, drop off, deep weed bed, or submerged rock pile.

Steeply sloping points are natural spots for anglers ice fishing for northern pike. Anglers can cover several different steps and drop-offs with a minimal amount of holes. This obviously saves time and makes for more efficient fishing.

Ice fishing for northern pike; techniques

The two basic techniques that anglers use when ice fishing for northern pike are jigging with spoons and plugs and using tip ups. Tip ups give anglers the advantage of fishing multiple holes at one time. However, most areas do have laws limiting the number of tip ups per angler. Also, there can be limitations as to how far they are spaced apart. Many anglers still prefer to catch northern pike on a conventional ice fishing rod and an artificial lure.

Jigging for pike

Jigs, spoons, and plugs will all produce northern pike through the ice. As mentioned earlier, northern pike do prefer a larger meal. Therefore, baits in the 3 inch to 4 inch range generally work best. These are usually worked more aggressively as pike are quite active even in the cold water.

The best set up for using artificial lures for pike is a medium ice fishing spinning rod with 10 pound monofilament or fluorocarbon line or 20 pound braided line. In both cases a snap swivel is tied to the end of the line. Anglers using braided line will need a 3 feet piece of 20 pound fluorocarbon leader. A steel leader may also be used.

Once set up and ready to go, the angler drops the lure to the desired depth and begins jigging it sharply in 1 foot increments. This is done multiple times at a certain depth. Then, the lure is dropped another foot or so and the process repeated all the way to the bottom. Often times, especially in deep water, allowing the lure to sit on the bottom for a few moments before jigging again will draw strike. Pike will often watch the lure as it sits there motionless.

Many anglers also tip their artificial lures with a head, tail, or strip of dead bait. This can work very well when fish are less active. Jigs, spoons, and plugs can all be tipped with a piece of bait.

Best lures when ice fishing for northern pike

The list of top lures for anglers ice fishing for northern pike include jigs, spoons, and plugs. The Rapala Jigging Rap is the go to lure for anglers ice fishing with plugs. This legendary lure has been around a long time and still catches plenty of fish. Other productive plugs include the Chubby Darter and Live Target Golden Shiner.

Spoons are very effective lures for anglers ice fishing for northern pike. They are heavy which means they will get down in deep water quickly. Spoons also put off a lot of flash and vibration. Top spoons include the Kastmaster, Flutter Spoon, and Swedish Pimple, though there are plenty of other productive spoons out there as well. Anglers should choose spoons and plugs that resemble local forage. Yellow perch patterns are a good choice in many applications.

Many anglers ice fishing associate jigs with panfish and walleye. However, jigs will certainly produce northern pike as well. Anglers should go with larger sizes that are around 3 inches to 4 inches long. Top jigs include the Marmooska Jig and Bro Bug Jig.

Using tip ups for northern pike

A 4 inch to six-inch sucker on a treble hooks fished on a tip up rig has probably produced more northern pike than all other methods combined. It is simple, yet extremely effective. Pike are active and like larger, live baits. Tip ups allow anglers to fish multiple holes at one time, increasing their chances of success.

Anglers should have their tip ups rigged with a good coated line that is freeze resistant. This is most often quite heavy line. The line then goes through a 1/2 ounce sliding egg sinker, followed by a good snap swivel. The swivel stops the sinker and allows for easy leader changes. A 3 foot long 20 pound fluorocarbon leader and a #2/0 to #5/0 hook completes the rig. Anglers can use a wire leader, however it is a bit more cumbersome.

Live bait fish are most often used under tip ups. Suckers, fathead minnows, and shiners are the most common. However, local bait shops that cater to ice fishermen will offer other baits as well. Dead and frozen baits will certainly produce northern pike, too. Dead and cut baits can be productive when fish are bit lethargic and seemingly unwilling to chase down a larger, lively bait. Frozen herring and even mackerel are good dead baits for pike as well.

Combine tip ups and jigging for pike fishing success

One excellent strategy is to use both tip ups and artificial lures at once. Anglers will place a tip up rig with a lively minnow set a few feet off the bottom in a likely spot. If legal, another tip up or even several can be set. Then, anglers can proceed to use jigging rods at other holes to help locate pike.

Tip ups can be a great option for anglers with families and for novice ice fishermen. Kids can for around and play and then when they fly goes off the race is on to see who gets to the hole first! Also, more people usually means more tip ups that anglers are allowed to fish at one time.

In conclusion, this article on ice fishing for northern pike will help anglers catch more of these fantastic game fish!

 

Ice Fishing with Tip Ups, a Complete guide

Ice Fishing with Tip Ups

This article will focus on ice fishing with tip ups. The main advantage of this ice fishing technique is that anglers do not need to actively monitor the hole. Therefore, several spots can be fished at one time, increasing the odds of success. The rig is set and the fish do the rest. Live bait is normally used, since the hole is not being actively fished. Cut bait can be used effectively as well.

ice fishing for northern pike

Tip ups consist of a frame, spool, and line. They are set over a hole and baited with live or cut bait. A flag will pop up to indicate a strike. Tip ups are generally used when pursuing larger species such as northern pike. It is important to check local fishing regulations as they will vary greatly regarding hooks, baits, and number of lines allowed.

Anglers who would like to read more about ice fishing can purchase Capt Jim’s E-book, “A Complete Guide to Ice Fishing” by clicking on the title link.

ice fishing basics

Anglers who would like to read more about ice fishing can purchase Capt Jim’s E-book, “A Complete Guide to Ice Fishing” by clicking on the title link.

While this can be an easy method of ice fishing, successful anglers usually put in more effort. Constantly checking baits and adjusting depths will usually result in more fish. Also, this is a great way to get youngsters involved in ice fishing. They can play while waiting for a bite as opposed to intently watching a rod tip. When a flag pops up, it is a mad dash to see who can get to the line first!

Ice fishing hole placement

ice fishing auger

As mentioned previously, the primary advantage to ice fishing with tip ups and tip downs is that several different spots can be fished at one time. Therefore, hole location is critical to optimizing the pattern of rigs. The best approach is to drill holes that fish several depths and if possible, types of cover. Anglers use GPS and sonar to pin point proven spots. Organized holes in a grid pattern will efficiently cover an area.

ice fishing with tip ups

Obviously, anglers will need some type of auger to drill holes in the ice. There are several options in both power and manual versions. Hand powered and battery powered augers work fine when drilling through relatively thin ice. Serious anglers ice fishing with tip ups will go to gas powered augers that will quickly cut through thick ice.

ice fishing auger

Click the link to shop Amazon for ice fishing augers

While covering water is the goal, anglers do not want the rigs spread too far apart. Baits will need to be monitored and changed at least every hour or so. Also, when a flag pops or a rod goes off, anglers need to be able to reach them in a reasonable amount of time. Keeping the holes to a one hundred yard radius is a good rule of thumb.

ice fish finder

Click to shop Amazon for an ice fishing fish finder

“Fishing Lido Key is a participant in the Amazon Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to Amazon. As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases. ”

Successful anglers ice fishing with tip ups do their homework before arriving on the ice. Studying charts and reviewing data from open water fishing will help anglers identify the top spots. Local bait shops can be great sources of information regarding best baits, depths, and bodies of water that are producing fish. Finally, online forms and groups can be a wealth of local information as well.

ice fishing

Best baits for ice fishing with tip ups

Anglers ice fishing with tip ups and tip downs almost always use live or cut bait. The reason is simple; since the hole is not being actively fished, the bait must attract the fish on it’s own. Anglers using tip ups almost always opt for a live minnow. Most of time, tip ups are used on larger fish such as walleye, pike, and larger trout. It takes a fairly strong tug to release the line from the clip, therefore smaller panfish are not usually targeted by anglers ice fishing with tip ups. These larger fish prefer a substantial meal.

catfish bait

While live bait is most often preferred, successful ice fishing anglers should not overlook using dead or cut bait. In fact, there are some locations where live minnows are not allowed to be used as bait. Fresh minnows that die can be effective baits an angler should not simply toss them away. Larger pieces of cut bait from freshly caught fish can produce some large pike and trout.

Ice fishing with tip ups

ice fishing for walleye

Tips ups have been around a long time. Many anglers use them exclusively when ice fishing. Most often, they are used to catch larger fish such as pike, walleye, lake trout and more. Panfish bite very lightly, so tip ups do not work as well for them. The tip up allows anglers to present a live or cut bait at a desired depth, without having to sit at the hole and actively fish it.

Click to shop Amazon for tip ups

The unit consists of a frame, usually wood or plastic, a spool of line, and a flag that signals when a fish strikes. The spool is usually filled with stout braided line, 50 lb is a good strength. A leader is then attached to the end of the braid using a snap swivel. This allows for an easy change of leaders, depending on the conditions. Some anglers add a pinch on weight just above the snap swivel. This helps it hang straight down. In strong current or very deep water, a sliding egg sinker can be used.

tip ups

Some anglers prefer round, plastic tip ups. These are very convenient as they fit right inside the hole. This eliminates the need to constantly keep the whole free a floating ice. These units are a bit more expensive, but many anglers consider them worth the cost.

Setting and using the ice fishing tip up

Once the hole is drilled, the tip up rig is set up. The hook is baited and lowered down to the preferred depth. Anglers should vary depths at each hole to determine where the fish are feeding that day. The line is then set in the clip and the angler moves on to set up the next hole.

ice fishing for northern pike

When a flag pops up, the angler dashes over to the hole. The spool will usually be spinning as a fish runs with the bait. The tip up is removed out of the way. Once the run slows, the anglers takes up the slack and then sharply sets the hook by hand. After the fish is hooked, it is patiently brought back in using a hand over hand motion. The head of the fish is raised up through the ice, then the rest of it is pulled through.

Tip up ice fishing rigs

Anglers fishing with tip ups have several options when it comes to rigs for their live or cut bait. Once again, anglers need to check local fishing regulations to make sure they are fishing in compliance with game laws and restrictions.

tip ups

Walleye rig

The best rig for fishing for walleye with tip downs is to use a jig and live minnow. A 4 foot long fluorocarbon leader is preferred. Most anglers use 8 pound test to 10 pound test line. The jig provides both weight and a hook. Anglers can fish a similar rig using a #4 live bait hook and a small split shot or two. With either rig, the minnow should be hooked in the back between the dorsal fin in the tail. This will keep it swimming down and away which signals distress to walleye in the area.

Trout rig

ice fishing for lake trout

Lake trout and larger rainbow and brown trout are highly prized species that anglers pursue through the ice. Once again, a 4 foot long fluorocarbon leader testing 8 to 10 pounds works well. Live minnows are most often used. Where legal, a small treble results in a good hookup ratio. Anglers who like to practice catch and release fishing and in areas were treble hooks are not allowed will do fine with a light wire live bait hook.

brook trout fishing

Tip ups are used used when ice fishing in shallow rivers. The reason for this is that anglers walking overhead in fairly shallow water will spook the trout. Anglers can set the line, often in water as shallow as 2 feet, and then leave the area. Once it settles down, the trout will move in and hopefully feed. This same approach works for brook trout in lakes as they often move quite shallow and the water is very clear.

Pike rig

northern pike fishing

Northern pike have very sharp teeth. Many anglers who ice fish for them use steel leaders. However, fluorocarbon leaders will often draw more strikes. Anglers will just have to determine if the risk is worth. Many anglers use a quick strike rig when pursuing northern pike through the ice. This rig consists of two hooks and a swivel. The bait is then hooked through the head and through the tail, increasing the odds of a hook up.

In conclusion, this article on ice fishing with tip ups and tip downs will help anglers catch more fish through the hard water!

 

Ice Fishing for Walleye, Proven Techniques

Ice fishing for Walleye, Pro Tips

Many anglers enjoy ice fishing for walleye. Walleye are one of the most popular freshwater game fish for anglers fishing northern waters. This certainly is true when lakes and rivers freeze over as well. This article will cover the tackle, lures and baits, locations, and techniques to help anglers be more successful when chasing walleye through the ice!

Anglers who would like to read more about ice fishing can purchase Capt Jim’s E-book, “A Complete Guide to Ice Fishing” by clicking on the title link.

Special thanks to Rick DeGagné who owns The Hook ‘n’ Cook Inn, Victoria Beach, Lake Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada. While not a guide, Rick is an expert at ice fishing for walleye. While Lake Winnipeg will be discussed, the tips, tackle, and baits shared will work on hard water walleye anywhere!

Ice fishing tackle and gear

Ice fishing requires some specialized gear and equipment. Some of this is not inexpensive. The rods, reels, lines, and terminal tackle are reasonably affordable. However, ice augers, fish finders, apparel, shelters, GPS units, and even specialized vehicles do get pricey. Most of these items have safety ramifications and anglers should not skimp in these areas. Ice fishing is great fun, but must be done with angler safety in mind. Anglers can read more about ice fishing tackle and gear in this article.

Ice fishing rods and reels

Anglers can shop Amazon for  ice fishing rod and reel combos

“Fishing Lido Key is a participant in the Amazon Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to Amazon. As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases. ”

Ice anglers will do well using shorter rods ranging from 24” to 36” and sometimes 42”. Although it is much easier to use a shorter rod, Rick prefers to use a Med/heavy 36” rod with 6lb line when ripping lipless rattle baits like the Live Target. For other lures especially when dead sticking, Rick suggests using shorter 28” rods. However, there is no “wrong” choice, it really is a matter of preference.

Ice fishing shelters

Shelters are a must, especially on larger bodies of water. Insulated flip-overs or pop-ups heated by propane heaters are the preferred choice. Like many other productive lakes, Lake Winnipeg is considered by many to be a featureless lake and therefore the fish are nomadic and are always on the move chasing bait fish. It is common to have to move on the ice so being portable is the way to go.

For this reason most hard core fishermen wear special ice fishing gear that protects them from the extreme cold and winds. Some are also have floatation features. They consist of bibs and jackets. An example would be Striker Ice Climate jacket and bibs. They come with removable liners so they are very useful in different temperatures. A very good pair of boots is also very important! Cold feet will shorten your time on the ice quickly. A great brand would be Baffin boots. They are made for extreme climates.

Fish finders/sonar

Fish Finders are a must when ice fishing. It can mean the difference between catching 1 fish or catching 10. Flashers are probably more popular with anglers but graphs are starting to gain more popularity as more advanced technology keeps coming out every year. They are well worth the investment for anglers who are serious about ice fishing for walleye.

ice fish finder

Click to shop Amazon for an ice fishing fish finder

Ice fishing augers

Ice thickness can get up to 5 feet thick on far north waters, depending on the season. On average it gets to be 3 to 4 feet thick near the end of the season. Gas powered augers are a must on Lake Winnipeg and other lakes with very thick ice. Electric augers will work but performance is limited in extreme cold and very thick ice. I’ve seen every brand of electric augers breakdown when the ice is 4 feet thick and very cold temps. Skimmers or scoops are also a necessity to clear the slush and ice chips left in the hole. Augers also vary in size, but on Lake Winnipeg 8” to 10” augers are most popular.

GPS units

GPS units are essential for locating underwater structure. Most anglers do their “homework” during the open water, marking potential holding spots for winter walleye. Also, GPS units are essential safety gear as well. Weather can turn quickly, reducing visibility. Also, if an anglers gets in trouble and needs medical attention, help will know where to come.

Ice fishing for walleye with lures

walleye fishing

Artificial lures are extremely effective when ice fishing for walleye. They provide weight to sink, flash and vibration, and of course a hook. Many walleye anglers, Rick included, almost always combine live bait with an artificial lure. Ice fishing lures must be presented vertically, as opposed to open water fishing where they can be cast and retrieved. Most ice fishing lures fall into three categories; jigs, spoons, and plugs.

Ice fishing jigs

Jigs are very popular ice fishing lures for walleye and other species. Anglers chasing panfish use tiny versions. Most anglers ice fishing for walleye choose jigs that weigh 1/8 to ½ ounce. Water depth and current will dictate which size is required. Most quality jigs are Tungsten, which a very dense.

Jigs are usually used in conjunction with a soft plastic bait. This is proven combination that catches fish all year long. The jig and grub can be tipped with a live or frozen minnow.

ice fishing with lures

The best approach when ice fishing for walleye is to allow the jig to float down naturally through the water column. Most walleye will be found on or near the bottom. However, a roaming game fish of any species may intercept it on the way down. Once the jig hits the bottom, it should be bounced lightly. The noise may attract a walleye. Anglers need to be patient and use their sonar units!

Ice fishing spoons

Ice fishing spoons work very well for several reasons. Most are heavy and sink quickly. This results in the bait getting down to the bottom quickly when fishing deeper water. They put out both flash and vibration, which will hopefully attract a hungry walleye. The hook up ratio is good with spoons as well.

ice fishing for beginners

Jigging spoons are also fairly easy to fish. The spoon is lowered down to the bottom, then jigged off the bottom using quick movements. As in all fishing, anglers should vary the retrieve until a productive pattern emerges. The same applies to ice fishing spoon sizes and colors, anglers should experiment with various sizes and finishes. Spoons can be tipped with salted frozen minnows as well.

Ice fishing plugs

While many anglers picture plugs being cast out and retrieved, some are effective in a vertical presentation. These really only include specially designed ice fishing plugs as well as lipless crank baits.

The Rapala Jigging Rap is a legendary ice fishing plug. The #7 Jigging Rap is a good size for walleye. Rick likes brighter color patterns for these baits. The bait has a fin on the rear which results in a circular swimming motion as the lure falls through the water column.

Live Target Golden Shiner lipless plugs are a favorite of Rick. The lure is dropped down and ripped up. Most bites occur as the lure falls. The Bill Lewis Rattle Trap is another example of this type of lure.

Ice fishing for walleye with live bait

Many anglers choice to fish for walleye through the ice using live bait. There is certainly good reason for this! The most popular bait for walleye fishing is a live minnow. These are readily available at bait shops that cater to anglers ice fishing.

Live minnows can be fished on a bare jig head as well as a hook. Jig heads are the best choice in deeper water. Anglers fishing over weeds or other structure can fish a live minnow under a float. A small split shot will get the bait down. A float can be used to suspend the minnow at a certain depth.

It is very important to hook the minnow correctly. This is especially important when fishing a tip up or down where the rod is not being actively fished. It is fine to hook a minnow through the lips when being jigged on the bottom. However, on the other rigs or when suspended, it is important to hook the minnow near the tail, behind the dorsal fin. This will cause the minnow to swim down, pulling against the line. These struggles will attract hungry walleye to the bait!

ice fishing with live bait

Nightcrawlers are another popular live bait for anglers ice fishing for walleye. Like minnows, they can be fished on both jig heads and on hooks. Nightcrawlers tend to work better early and late in the season when the walleye are in water that is not as deep.

Best spots to catch walleye under the ice

The same spots and areas that produce walleye in open water fishing will produce under the ice as well. Walleye also exhibit a seasonal migration. It is a bit like summer, but in reverse. Early in the ice fishing season, fish will be found in shallower water. Weed beds, points, creek channel edges, and submerged islands in 15 to 20 feet of water are good spots to start fishing.

As the season progresses, walleye will generally move deeper. Main river channels, deeper reefs, and other spots will often be the most productive. As spring approaches, walleye will again ease in a bit shallower.

Effects of weather when ice fishing for walleye

Weather has a huge effect on fish activity under the ice just as it does in open water. Prime times to fish are early and late in the day. Also, approaching fronts will have the fish feeding. Conversely, post front conditions with a bright, high sky can make for a sluggish bite.

Ice fishing strategies for walleye

Once out on the ice, it is time to go fishing! However, successful anglers have a game plan, based on local information, weather, and experience. The best approach is to drill multiple holes in a crisscross pattern. Ideally, the holes will cover several different depths over cover and some type of structure break.

Minnesota ice fishing

Once the holes are drilled, the sonar unit can be deployed to see what life lurks below. Hopefully, bait and game fish will appear on the screen. Even if there is no action, it is still worth dropping a bait down. A jig and minnow is a good place to start. Spoons are a good second choice.

If fish are seen but they do not seem interested, it is time to try different lures, baits, and presentations. Finicky fish usually respond to slow, subtle movements and smaller baits. However, sometimes ripping a plug will result in a reflex strike.

2 pronged approach for walleye fishing success

There is a technique to fishing on Lake Winnipeg. It works on many other lakes as well. Anglers are allowed to use 2 rods in one hole. The longer rod is used for ripping the Live Target tipped with a minnow/shiner head through the eyes on the back treble and a shorter rod for a dead stick. The dead stick will consist of either a jig head tipped with either a live minnow through the tail or a frozen salted minnow/shiner, a bobber rigged with a live minnow hooked through the tail weighted down with split shot, or a spoon like a Macho Minnow tipped with a frozen salted shiner on the treble hook. The Macho minnow as it has a plastic fin that flutters with the slightest movement that seems to trigger a bite.

fishing for walleye, a beginners guide

Lake Winnipeg, like other lakes, is murky so you need to attract the fish. This is where the Live Target and other lipless baits comes in. You attract the fish by ripping the lure 4 to 5 feet off the bottom. The rattle is quite loud and can easily be heard in your shelter. I keep ripping the lure for a good 5 minutes then let it sit about 2 feet off the bottom for a few more minutes. Then I move to the dead stick and give it very subtle movements.

Teasing the walleye to the lure

This lure is about 1 foot off the bottom. The lure is worked back and forth until a fish appears on the fish finder. They usually come up from the bottom. The goal is to try and get them to chase your lure towards the ice at the right speed. If you reel too fast, you will lose them. If you reel in too slow, the fish will lose interest.  Yes you do catch some as the lure drops towards the bottom but most are caught on the chase towards the ice.

Bites often occur 2 or 3 feet below the ice from fish chasing the lure from the bottom in 20 foot. This is why a fish finder is important. The chase can last a long time with a fish chasing your lure up and down several times before biting the lure to then decide it is more interested in the dead stick. You then switch rods, start jigging the dead stick and start the chase with that lure. It is like playing a video game. Of course you can’t use this approach with a float rig. The live minnow will create it’s own chase with the fish.

Sometimes when the fish a lethargic, the Live Target just acts as a dinner bell and the fish are only interested in the dead stick. A less aggressive approach with the Live Target is best in this situation to not spook the fish.

ice fishing basics

Tip ups and tip downs can be good options as well. Live minnows are the best choice in the situation. However, dead minnows, nightcrawlers, and even cut bait can be effective as well. Sometimes a dead bait sitting motionless on the bottom is what is required to get a walleye to bite!

Walleye fishing on Lake Winnipeg

Lake Winnipeg produces huge Walleye. Many anglers from the U.S. come up here in search of trophy Greenbacks. Some come up 3 or 4 times a season. It is a world renowned sport fishery. Several 30” plus walleye are caught each season. March is the preferred month as the weather gets milder. It is called “March Madness” in the ice fishing world on Lake Winnipeg. All the local hotels and lodging gets booked solid during March.

Temperatures and weather on Lake Winnipeg during ice fishing season can get very extreme. Temperatures can get as cold as -40 degrees Celsius. It also gets very windy on Lake Winnipeg with gusts at some times reaching 70 km’s per hour. This is why the lake earned the nickname “Big Windy”. On average one can expect temperatures around – 20 Celsius during the winter with winds between 10 to 20 kms per hour.

walleye

Live minnows or frozen salted shiners/minnows is all that is used in winter months on Lake Winnipeg to try and match the forage in the winter. The South Basin of the lake is a sandy bottom with very little structure. The fish are always on the move looking for baitfish who are also always on the move. More people are purchasing nautical online to pinpoint subtle changes in depths or depth outlines on the bottom as well as a few rock outcroppings that may hold fish. Navionics or the FishSmart app are a couple of examples.

Successful anglers work together

Rick will usually start in the 20 feet of water range and is best to fish in groups as saves a lot of time locating the fish. Groups of 4 to 5 tents can cover a lot of area if each group fishes different depths and work together. The use of walkie talkies is handy in these situations. For example, 1 tent fishes 14 foot, the next 16 foot, and so on. In some locations this could easily span a kilometer or more. In other locations this could span 100 yards. Once a school of fish is located everyone moves into the general area.

Things to also look for are large ice ridges that stick out of the ice. These are caused by the strong winds which usually happen during the early ice freeze. These ridges create structure under the ice for bait fish to hide. Often walleye cruise the ice ridge lines feeding off these bait fish. The ice in these areas is usually quite thick. I usually add a 12” or even 18” extension to my auger to make it through the ice.

Most trophy walleye over 28” are released back into the water as there are pretty much all females full of eggs. They are the future of the fishery on the lake. Having said that, you are allowed to keep 1 Walleye over 28” per season.

Lake Winnipeg  as well as all of Manitoba is barbless so you must secure your bait on the hook or it will fall off. A small rubber stopper will do the trick. There are items on the market that are specifically made for this like the Bait Buttons. They come with a handy dispenser too.

In conclusion, this article on ice fishing for walleye will help anglers catch more fish!