Ice Fishing – Catching Fish in the Winter Cold


Ice fishing is popular with sportsmen in the north where lakes freeze over for months at a time. These tips are helpful for those new to ice fishing and cover topics such as using an ice auger, keeping warm, and what gear to bring for a day fishing on the ice.


  1. Dress the part and do it in layers. You need to keep your body temp up to catch the big one!
  2. Ask questions about what is biting, with what bait, and where the fish are biting. Local sports shops or fishing equipment stores are the best places to get information.
  3. Pack a big bag. Include a fishing line and pole, bait bucket, ice auger, bait, lures, bench, a towel, a depth finder, food to snack on, and maybe even a waterproof heater. These are the basics for ice fishing.
  4. Locate where you want to fish and call for ice conditions before you walk out on that ice. It is not always as thick as it looks. The ice should be at least four inches thick and hard frozen. Snow depth on the top doesn’t count.
  5. Call the local fishing license department to get a license to ice fish.

Out in the Cold

  1. Find an ice shanty near other fisherman. These are the cabin like structures you see on the ice. The locals usually know where the fish are biting.
  2. Dig a hole using an ice auger and skim out as much of the ice chips and remnants that you can. Floating ice can break your line.
  3. Use a dip net when baiting your line. It will keep your hands out of the water.
  4. Weigh your line down so you can fish close to the bottom of the lake. The water in a frozen lake is warmer at the bottom and most types of fish congregate there.
  5. Wait quietly and patiently. Ice fishing will teach these qualities if nothing else.

Fish not biting? Move down a few yards, you may be pleasantly surprised.


  • Research what types of fish are in what area lakes. You will be able to buy your lures and bait more effectively with this information.
  • Know what to do if someone falls into the ice. You may be able to save someone’s life with ten minutes of knowledge.


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