As the winter months go on, the fish seem to get more and more scarce. Some people will ask where fish go in the winter? Experienced ice anglers will know exactly where to find them. There are plenty of tips and tricks out there that veteran fishermen will turn to that will help them during the frigid months.
While the fish don’t go away during the winter, they do find places to hide throughout the lake that can make them harder to find. They will also try to expend less energy, which will keep them in these hiding places until they find a proper meal. Ice fishing isn’t for the faint of heart, and you’ll want to learn as many fishing tricks as you can to help on your next trip.
Ice Fishing Tips
Today we put together some of the best ice fishing tips to help you catch even more on your next trip. So, the next time your techniques aren’t working, try some of these out and see if they work. Here are some ice fishing tips and techniques to help you out.
Be Aware of Depth
When you are fishing and unable to catch anything, try adjusting the depth of your bait. Different types of fish like to congregate at various depths of the lake. Some fish prefer to stay around the bottom, while others like to stay in the middle of the lake.
Try using a fish finder or ice fishing camera to try and locate a fish to get a feel for what depth a type of fish like to occupy. You can also do research ahead of time to learn what depth your target fish usually swims at.
Keep an Eye Out for Depressions
When you’re looking at maps of a lake for depth or other features, keep track of where the depressions in the lake are located. Fish like to spend time in these depressions, because they usually have food sources and warmer water.
Try keeping track of these areas to find larger numbers of fish. Depressions in the lake are a good place to start looking for larger numbers.
Scout Out the Area
Before you head out on your ice fishing trip, look out a map of the area. A map can help you see water depths and other features of the lake. You can use it to spot drop-offs and depressions that fish might like to hang out in. You can also try to find areas of heavy vegetation – a popular hiding spot for many species.
Getting a lay of the land can help you get a good idea of where and where not to fish on the lake.
Study Up on Fish Behavior
When you’re trying to land a monster fish, you should study the behavior of that fish. Determining a fish’s behavior and temperament can help you decide what type of bait to use or how you should move your bait.
Some fish will prefer bait that moves, while other may prefer it to sit still. Determining how a fish hunts or feeds will help you determine how to catch it. Fish behavior varies by species, so study up on your target species to help you make a great catch. Learn the tips for catching perch, crappie, and walleye through the ice.
Don’t Move Your Bait Too Much
While you may want to move your line around a lot to try and attract some attention, that may not be the best strategy. During the winter months, fish prefer not to expend as much energy. If they see your bait moving too much, they may not want to spend the energy to catch it.
So, if you think you’re moving your line too much, take a breath and let it sit for a little while. Ice fishing is a sport of patience, so why not let the fish come to you?
Cast Bait on the Bottom
Some fish prefer to feed on the lake floor. So, to try and reach some of these fish you should try casting your bait as far as it can go. Bluegill and perch are two of the most popular fish during the winter months and they love to feed off of the bottom.
Bounce your bait off the bottom of the water to try and kick up some debris and mud, to catch a fish’s attention. Some fish may be drawn in by it.
Switch Between Live Bait and Lures
After fishing for awhile it is a good idea to switch up the bait you’re using. This is helpful, either to change it up and give the fish a different target, or because the fish have gotten tired of going after live bait. Either way, it is a good idea to switch it up to keep the fish guessing.
Cover the Hole
Try covering up your ice fishing hole, especially in shallower water to help with your fishing. It will help you block out light that may penetrate through the hole.
Light can stop fish from coming towards your hole because most of the lake is clouded by ice. Fish will be wearier of coming near you or your line if it is more visible. Covering the hole will help to catch skittish fish who are spooked by the bright light. There are ice hole covers made for this purpose.
As an exception, crappie are drawn to plankton that gather in light, so they might be drawn to a brighter spot. Otherwise, more types of fish prefer to avoid open hole.
Chum the Water
Sometimes it is a good idea to chum the hole that you are fishing in. Some fish will be drawn in by the aroma and extra food in the water, attracting them to your line. This can not only bring more fish to your hole, but it can also make them more aggressive. Aggressive fish are easier to fish for because they will be more willing to bite.
While it is always a good idea to change up your fishing strategies it is also good to keep safety in mind. You should never try out a new technique without making sure its safe first. There is no reason to come up with a new way of fishing that will but you or others in danger.
Try Fishing at Night
Ice fishing at night can actually work fairly well. Low light is great for walleye fishing, one of the biggest targets for ice anglers. If you do go fishing at night, however, be especially cautious and always bring a friend to watch your back.
Even if you already know how to ice fish, it never hurts to learn a few ice fishing tips. Even veteran fishermen try to expand on what they know.
Never forget to switch things up while you are fishing. Sometimes your usual methods just may not work, and it never hurts to have some more methods up your sleeve.
Prepare for your next ice fishing trip with the proper ice fishing gear, and try these tips to maximize your success!