Ice fishing ultimate guide for beginners

Fishing is a joyous time for many people. But the most common type of fishing is done in running water sources like rivers, ocean, etc. So, if you belong to that group, you would curse the entire winter season. However, you can get the same level of joy and excitement even on winter day if you switch to ice fishing. 

It is a more thrilling experience you can have in your lifetime. But it is not free from danger; a little mistake can take your life. Maybe that is the reason many people like this method of fishing. Nevertheless, it is the best thing to spend your time with your buddies. So, in this post, we will provide from a to z related to ice fishing. 

What is ice fishing?

As the name itself denotes, ice fishing is the act of catching the fish in ice. This practice involves catching fish with fishhooks, lines, or spears through an ice opening on the frozen water body. The ice anglers operate in both heated or open enclosures with bunks and other amenities. 

Since the fishing is done on the frozen part of the water body, you can catch almost all types of fish. Here are some of the significant kinds of fish you can catch with ice fishing. 

Yellow Perch

You can catch the yellow perch fish too in the ice fishing. You can eat them in versatile modes, and it can be baked, dry-fried, poached, grilled, etc. The typical size of the yellow perch is 19.1 cm. 

Northern Pike

The northern pike or simply called pike in most parts of Britain, Canada, Ireland, and the United States. It belongs to the carnivorous fish species; they usually look brackish, and you can find them in freshwaters in the northern hemisphere. They can grow up to 55 cms in size with an average 40-55 cms range, and they also weigh more.


Walleye fish are the safest and healthiest fish to eat. They are full of nutrients that the human body requires the most. They are also called yellow pickerel or yellow pike. You can find this type of fish in abundance through the US and Canada regions. They grow up to 15-18 inches in size. 

Lake Trout

Lake trout are available in plenty in northern North America. They lived in a freshwater atmosphere and called with numerous names. The different terms of fish include namaycush, lake char, togue, Mackinaw, and grey trout. They generally grow huge, with an average of 50 cm in length. 

Brown Trout

Brown Trout are the European fish species, and they can grow up to 40 pounds. You can get from two-pound of fish to forty pounds. For getting the great flavor, smaller fish are recommended since grown fish overpower the taste. 

Atlantic Salmon

You can get the big sized Atlantic Salmon fish in the frozen rivers. It is the largest salmon, and they can grow up to one meter in length. The salmon is rich with omega-three content, and it does wonders for human health. 

Black Crappie

The block crappies are not a new species of fish for the North American people. They can grow up to 11 inches in size. In the month of spring, they are available in plenty, but you can catch them even in winter if you opt for ice fishing. 

Ice fishing vs. regular fishing

Indeed, the line used in ice fishing is almost like the one which is used for regular fishing. However, since the condition of both atmospheres is different, many lines act differently on ice. That means the fishing line and other equipment that work perfectly might not provide the same level of effectiveness in ice fishing. 

For the same reason, we can see numerous lines primarily sold for ice fishing. They are designed to adjust to the icy condition and are more effective. If you don’t want to buy an ice fishing line, you can get a strong enough line, but it must not be visible easily. 

While fishing in the ice, you need to fish through a hole, and since the ice surrounding the hole has edges, it can damage the line. You can use a braided, it is ideal for dealing with the damages, but it is not so transparent, and hence fish might see the line. 

The most significant difference in ice and regular fishing is the movement around the fish. The traditional water source always has more action, and it is easier to catch the fish. But in ice fishing, the environment will be more static, and fish can quickly feel the movements. Due to this factor, the fish can get more time to think before it attracts the air and finally bites it. Thus, fluorocarbon lines are the ideal choice as they provide sturdiness and resistance to erosion than monofilament. 

The other thing to pay attention to is fluorocarbon weighs less, not easily visible, and sinks naturally in the water. To put it another way, ice fishing lines are more robust, less detachable, and come with very little memory than regular fishing lines.

How much is an ice fishing license?

Ice fishing is a fun time, and without a doubt, it brings a lot of thrill to us. But you can’t simply go with your fishing equipment and start fishing in freezing winter. So, you need a valid license. Whether you are resident or non-resident, you can get a permit to start ice fishing and transport the same. 

Hence, a person must always keep their valid fishing license to catch and transport the same. The reason is you need to exhibit your license to any warden, guide, department employee, or landowner on their request. Now you can display the electronic license in all these scenarios instead of a physical license. 

When it comes to licensing fees, you can find a different price for different types of permits. The cost for a resident is less compared to the non-resident. You can get different kinds of licenses such as season fishing, day fishing, the combination of fishing and hunting, etc. Hence, it will start from $11 (day fishing) for the resident. For the seasonal license, you need to pay $25 for a resident and $64 for the non-resident. 

How to ice fishing?

Everyone knows that fishing is an exciting thing, and if it is done during the cold, it gives another level of thrill. But with the rush, you also need to encounter some of the issues which can make your fishing experience difficult. So, the first thing you need to pay attention to is the technique. Astonishingly, the number of methods of fish catch is plenty similar to the varieties of fish you can get! Which is the best method? The answer to this question is a bit tricky, so we provide the most common and popular ways to catch fish. 

Tip-Up Fishing

The tip-up fishing is one of the popular ways in the ice fishing field. In this method, tip-up devices are set up above the ice hole. The device dangle baits and uses a flag to indicate the strikes. Once the fish fall to the trap by biting the bait, the reel activates and releases both flags and the line simultaneously. The flag indicates the user that something is on the line. The setup and learning this type of ice fishing is simple. The tip-up method works best with a larger lure and strong braided line, and it is generally used to catch the big fish. 

Light-Rod Fishing

The light rod fishing is the conventional way of catching the fish. It is a comfortable, less complex, yet effective way to see the fish. As the name says, a light rod fishing is catching the fish with a lightweight, long, and flexible pole. You can find a hook to attract the fish lures or baits that are impaled on either one or multiple hooks attached to the line at the end of the pole. Once the fish is attracted to the lures and bait, they try to eat it, and at the same time, the hook catches the fish, and you can feel whether something entered inside the hook. Once it gets confirmed, you know what to do the rest!

Spear Fishing

In the spearfishing method, you need some equipment, and, most notably, patience is required for other fishing methods. First, you need to dig several holes in the ice and connect all of them with an ice saw. You need to remove the ice from the hole to see the movement under the water quickly. In the next step, strain the hole with a strainer or a shovel. Once you are ready with this, you need to make sure no light enters the hole. The darker it is better for catching the fish. Then be prepared with your spear. Sometimes it takes a while, so be ready for that. Now throw a decoy attached to a line. Live suckers, lures, even the colorful golf balls will work. You must not shake the decoy too often. Once you see the fish, bring your inner caveman into the play. Throw the spear and retrieve it with the attached rope. 

Ice fishing gear 2020

Indeed, ice fishing is a thrilling encounter you can enjoy alone or with a bunch of your buddies. However, with the thrill, you. are also prone to many problems, from cold weather to life taking situations. But no need to lose your heart, because the modern equipment and safety gear will take care of those aspects if you use them carefully. Let us look at the fishing gear you can get in 2020. Of course, this year is remembered for gear (safety gear)!.

Ice fishing rod

The ice fishing rods are the essential requirement to catch the fish. They are available with different materials, and the most used material is carbon. The ice fishing rods should be sensitive enough to feel if anything gets in contact with that. Along with the varieties of materials to choose from, you can also get many lengths of the rods. The ideal size depends on where and how so you want to catch fish. Based on the depth and lure weight, your fishing rod power is determined. Typically, ice fishing needs from medium to heavy power rods. 

Ice fishing lures

Whether you are fishing in the ice or on the regular water, you need help from a lure. The best lure can attract more and giant fish to fill your fishing basket in no time. You can get numerous fish looking like lures in the current market. The best lure will be those which can swim away and out from the ice holes are the ideal choice for catching fish. These lures look like baitfish and trap more fish. If you are fishing in a low light condition, using the glowing lures is the best choice.

Fishing line

The fishing line is the true friend of anglers from the centuries. You can find hundreds of different brands, sizes, types, properties, strengths, and diameters available in the market. If you are a beginner in ice fishing, the varieties of choices will overwhelm you for sure. But you can quickly determine the line that perfectly suits your needs by asking a few basic questions about the method you choose to catch the fish. 

Ice fishing jig box

The lures are the vital thing to catch the fish, whether it doesn’t matter whether it is your regular water fishing or ice fishing. The simple jigs are the basic types of hooks that are attached to the small metalhead. You can find lead or tungsten made lure. The latter is an expensive option, but they sink quickly and give better feel and control to the anglers. 

Ice fishing bucket

Well, I know whoever gets ready to do ice fishing, one of the things they think first is the ice fishing bucket. Of course, it is the basic need for every angler. It is for taking your prey to home, and it is needed to bring the most needed thing for fishing – fish bait. You can use many types of temptation, but if you use live baits, the chances of catching the fish are more. Hence ice fishing buckets are needed to keep the live bucket fresh. 

Fishing pants

The attire you use while catching the fish is also important. The reason is the weather conditions will be freaking cold, and you need to deal with the water as well. So, choosing good quality pants are required. They should take care of both crucial aspects, one it should provide the warmth to keep your body heat at an average level, and it should be waterproof. In the current market, you can get numerous brands, materials, and other options. 

Ice fishing gloves

If you are going to catch fish, you need to protect yourself from cold toes and fingers. For cold toes, you can use thick and high-quality socks. But for fingers, you must purchase at least a good pair of fishing gloves. You need to buy the gloves that are good enough to keep your hands warmer, and at the same time, you need to ensure you can move your fingers without the slightest issues. Waterproof gloves are the ideal choice for fishing.

Ice fishing drill

The first thing you need to do while catching the fish is making the holes. So, every ice angler has to own a high-quality auger drill to make his fishing adventure pleasant, successful, and comfortable. In today’s market, you can find a vast collection of ice augers to choose from, and they are more effective than the old school method equipment which your grandpa used. While some augers are specially designed for low budget-looking people, the rest are concentrated on enhancing your fish hunting job’s speed and accuracy. 

Ice fishing light

The fishing lights are the best friend of any angler these days. The reason is simple: it makes the job easier with little effort. In the low light area and during the dark time, it isn’t easy to locate the lake’s shape, and holes are dug inside the lake. But if you want to work smartly, equipping yourself with LED fish light is essential. It allows the angler to sit at one place and attract the fish towards them rather than going behind them. There are varieties of submersible fish lights available to attract the fish. 

Ice fishing fish finder

Technology truly makes the life of humans easier. With the fish finder, you can truly experience this point well. It is hard to locate the position where fish are available in the vast frozen icy place before digging the holes. And this is where this equipment comes handy. With a good quality fish finder, you can quickly locate the spot and begin your fish hunt within a few minutes rather than waste your time digging the holes in the wrong places. 

When does ice fishing season end?

March is the best time if you want to enjoy the best of ice fishing. And the fishing season starts from early March and goes on till the end of April. 

Where to ice fish?

In America, you can get plenty of places that are best suited for conducting your ice fishing activity. The lakes are the best place to catch fish in the cold winter. Along with that, you can find big fish in reservoirs as well. In terms of ice fishing, the top sites of America are the Silver lake of California, Devils lake North Dakota, Lake Champlain, Vermont, and many lakes and other water resources. 

How to Make a Hole in the Ice?

First, you need to study the map of the lake. It will allow you to know the shape and structure of the water source. It will give a clear idea about where you can find the fish more. Then, use the hand auger to dig the hole. You must make sure whether the ice formation is enough to take your weight after digging the hole. And to make your fishing effective, you need to drill more holes rather than making a hole and waiting for a whole day!

Ice Fishing Safety

We already know how deadly ice fishing can be if you miss a few basic things. So, there is nothing more important than our life. Hence, let us look at some of the safety tips.  

Testing the Ice

First things first, you need to access the conditions before starting your fishing process. The reason is the ice can be very deceptive. Sometimes, it looks like a robust platform, but if one crack opens up, your whole surrounding can fall apart. You need to be very careful and check whether it is strong enough to dig holes and stand without any issues. 

Safety Equipment

Whatever your level of readiness and confidence about the ground, sometimes it can deceive you, and there is a high probability of falling into the water under the ice. Hence, equip yourself with life-saving equipment such as life jackets, ice cleats, ice chisel, etc. 

Keep warm and dry

In the cold weather keeping your body temperature at an average level is essential. Thankfully, you can get many products which help to achieve your goal. The items such as mittens, hand warmers, suits, boots, jackets are some of the things which can help you immensely. 

Never ice fish alone.

This is a must to follow tip because whatever the readiness and precautions you take, there always be an element of surprise. Going alone can become a risky thing while doing ice fishing. So, go with your buddies, family members to fishing. It can also help to kill time along with fish!

We hope all the things we explained here will help to enjoy your ice fishing adventure with complete preparation. So, gather all the required stuff and start to be ready to begin your hunt, because winter is coming!