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Ice Fishing at Night: Tips and Safety Precautions

ice fishing at night

During the winter season, the days are shorter, so it’s often dark when the workday is done. This means that the time that you have left for fishing is at night under the stars.

While ice fishing at night might sound odd or dangerous, it could actually turn out to be very rewarding. Several fish species adapted to the cold temperatures like feeding at night – in fact, most larger fish only feed under the cover of darkness. Take advantage of that knowledge to catch even more fish for yourself! 

Tips for Night Ice Fishing

Unlike daytime fishing, fishing at night requires some different methods as well as safety precautions. Use these tips to safely and effectively go ice fishing at night! 

Try these Night Time Ice Fishing Tips:

  1. Target Crappie and Walleye
  2. Try Bright Lures
  3. Know Where to Fish
  4. Stay in a Shelter
  5. Use a Fish Finder


Target Crappie and Walleye

If you’re going ice fishing at night, you should know what species to look for. You’re most likely to catch crappie and walleye at night – which is great, because these are two popular game fish.

Both crappie and walleye stay active at night, so they are the most likely to bite if you’re fishing under the stars.

Since you know that crappie and walleye will be actively biting, use your ice fishing knowledge to target them specifically! Use the best ice fishing jigs for crappie or the best ice lures for walleye so that you’re sure to lure them in.


Try Bright Lures

Fishing at night obviously means it’s dark out, so fish may have trouble seeing your bait. The lack of light can actually be helpful – sunlight won’t come through your hole and scare off the fish. To make sure they see your bait and lures, use brightly colored or glow in the dark lures to get their attention.

In the dark, fish will be able to see a bright lure from farther away in the lake, bringing your next catch right to your hook.

For the most success, try a glow in the dark lure with live bait attached. The smell of live bait helps attract fish while ice fishing. Vibrations also help at night, so lures with a rattle or blades can be useful.


Know Where to Fish

Using a fish finder or ice fishing camera will help you find fish, but you can’t cover the whole lake with those tools. Knowing where to look will save you a lot of time. Expert ice anglers recommend fishing in shallower areas compared during the day, or narrow spots on the lake.

Try fishing on bars, offshore humps, and main-lake points. There is usually no guaranteed spot that can be said to have lots of fish to catch.

However, most fishing experts often advise fishing on bars, offshore humps, as well as main-lake points. Such places are said to be frequented by fish at night when they are looking for food. Fish also often linger around the weed lines – right near the edge of vegetation. Try these spots with your fish sonar first so that you don’t waste time searching. 


Glowing tents on the ice


Stay in a Shelter

Many anglers use ice shelters and tents during the day, but these are even more helpful at night. At night, the temperature drops, making it even colder. For this reason, it’s better to fish in a shelter of some sort.

Not only will you stay warm and avoid hypothermia or frostbite, but it will also keep your fishing holes from freezing over. If you want to move around a lot, bring a portable ice shelter.


Use a Fish Finder

Fishing finding sonars are useful for any form of ice fishing, during the day and at night. A quality fish finder can detect fish through the ice, so you don’t waste time drilling a hole with your ice auger.

Use a fish finder at night to find your catch faster! On a dark, cold night, time is of the essence. Don’t waste a minute on a dead part of the lake – use your fish finder to figure out the best location on the ice quickly.


ice fishing in the dark


Ice Fishing at Night Safety Tips

When you go fishing at night it means you will be out there in the dark and therefore the conditions will be slightly different than during the day. For this, you have to be perfectly prepared to stay out of harm’s way. Follow these nighttime ice fishing safety tips. 


Follow these Safety Tips for Ice Fishing at Night:

  1. Wear Reflective Clothing
  2. Bring a Light
  3. Prepare for the Cold

Wear Reflective Clothing

It’s important that other anglers can see you, so wear reflective clothing at night to improve visibility. Many ice fishing suits and bibs have reflective strips for this purpose.

When you’re ice fishing at night, other fishers may also be out and might have ice fishing gear like snowmobiles, ATVs, or even cars. If they can’t see you, they could hit you with one of those vehicles. Make it easy for others to find you by wearing clothing that reflects light.


Bring a Light

It’s essential that you bring a light of some sort to go fishing at night! Since it’s nighttime, it’s obviously dark, and you’ll need to be able to see. A headlamp is a popular choice for nighttime ice anglers, since it frees up their hands to use other tools.


Prepare for the Cold

Ice fishing is always a cold weather sport, but it’s especially frigid at night. Without the warmth from the sun, it will be even colder on a frozen lake. Prepare for the cold weather by bundling up with lots of layers, ice fishing boots, gloves, hats, and more. If you bring a shelter, pack a heater as well to stay warm. Read up on cold weather safety to prevent any chance of hypothermia or frostbite.


Make the Most of Ice Fishing at Night

Enjoy your time ice fishing at night and make the most of a relatively empty lake! With less competition and active fish looking for food, you can make some of your best catches of the winter fishing season at night.


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