For most northern anglers, we all know what is coming, the dreaded cold, the massive amounts of snow, and about 2 feet of ice on our lakes. Our boats get put away along with our long open water rods and for most of us, we bust out our 2 to 3 foot long ice fishing poles. It could be a sad time of year for some people.

Ice fishing is a great way to keep your fishing skills sharp. You are still active and staying on fish. Just like open water fishing, the fish always move. To be successful, you have to move and adapt to the fishing conditions.

ice fishing hole

Following, finding, and catching fish during the ice fishing season can be very challenging. Just like open water fishing, homework has to be done to stay on top of your game. Using resources, a network of friends, and simple questions at the local bait shops will help when finding new water to fish or active fish on a lake you fish a lot.

Here are some tips to increase your ice fishing time and catches.

#1 – Have Many Rods Rigged Up

I carry around 4 to 5 rods with me at any time when I ice fish. They are all rigged up with something different. One with a small jig, another with a spoon, and so on. Having many different rods can help when targeting different fish or searching for active fish.

#2 – Stay Mobile

I see many ice fishermen drill one hole and sit in it all day. Sometimes that can be rewarding when a school of fish comes by, but most of the time, you are missing out on the most active fish. Drill as many holes as you can to find fish, when you find the active fish, then you can rest.

ice fishing mobile#3 – Be Open and Social

Ice fishing is close combat. There are no rules on how close you can fish by someone. Be nice and ask before you drill holes. Strike up a conversation with them. Simple acts of kindness will go a long way and if you are like me, I will remember the nice guys on the ice and you will run into them again on other outings. Being open and respectful helps build up a good social network of guys you can call. It makes fishing a little easier when you are having a hard time finding fish.

social while ice fishing#4 – Do Some Research and Explore

Ice fishing involves some research. The lake is frozen over, the weeds are starting to die and most of the fish are either deep or they are starting to move deep. Find the deepest water in the lake and start fishing your way to the deep water. Suspended fish are going to be the most aggressive. Exploring and doing things out of the norm can either pay off or they are a big waste. This is why you fish with a group. Teamwork is always key.

#5 – Be Safe

My joke is, make sure that there is someone bigger than you going on the ice first. Yeah, I know, we all have that one friend, but in all, be safe. Use a spud bar to check the ice, if it takes 2 to 3 hard knocks to get the bar to go through the ice you are fine. Make sure to have a long rope and a throwable when you go out on the ice. If you are solo, wear a life jacket. Ice picks are always good when ice fishing but what I find that works even better is 2 screw drivers. That way they double as ice picks and if you need a screw driver, you have both a flat head and a phillips!

ice fishing perchThese are some of my tips for a successful and safe ice fishing season. Make sure to fish with a good group of friends this ice season and make sure to connect with me on Fishidy!


  1. Please also clean up after yourselves! Nothing tarnishes the fishing reputation like leaving a pile of cigarette butts, beer cans and other trash.