7 Tips to Get Started Ice Fishing this Winter

If you're looking for a new outdoor adventure this winter, maybe you should give ice fishing a try. Ice fishing is easier than you think; just pick up some basic fishing gear, bundle up and follow these 7 tips for a great day on the ice.

Below are a few things that you'll need for your ice fishing trip. With a little preparation and some practice, you'll be catching species like walleye, crappie, lake trout, perch or bluegill in no time!

1. Buy a Fishing License

Purchasing a fishing license is one of the most important steps to take before planning an ice fishing trip with your family and friends. There are different types of licenses; make sure to purchase a fishing license that is valid in the state where you will be fishing.

2. Check Ice Fishing Regulations

After purchasing your fishing license, you should check the fishing regulations that apply in your state and the waterway where you will be fishing. It is important to know how to properly identify each species of fish and know when you can and can't keep them.

3. Keep Your Ice Fishing Gear Simple

You don't need to buy an expensive fishing rod or reel to ice fish. Ice fishing rods are usually shorter than a standard fishing rod. They are only 3 to 4 feet in length since long casts aren't necessary for this type of fishing. You can buy an ultralight spinning or spincasting reel that is rigged with eight-pound fishing line. This type of line is sufficient enough for most of the species that you are trying to catch.

ice fishing ©Can Stock Photo Inc. | Natak

4. When and Where to Ice Fish

Before you go ice fishing, make sure to identify which types of fishing spots are both safe and likely to hold fish. It is also a good idea to check the weather forecast, dress appropriately, and educate yourself about ice fishing safety.

5. Choose the Bait

You can use either live bait or lures for ice fishing. Beginners usually prefer live bait like live minnows or wax worms. After you gain more confidence, you can switch to jigs, spoons or any other artificial lures for more of a challenge.

6. Ice Fishing Tools

To be able to make a hole in the ice you will need an ice auger. An auger is a drilling device with a spiraling edge that cuts through the ice. Using extreme care, position the auger blades on the ice and apply pressure as you drill the hole.

ice fishing ©Can Stock Photo Inc. | titovstudio

7. Rig your lines

When you're ready to fish, bait your line and drop it in the water until you feel it hit the bottom. Then, reel your bait up a foot or two off the bottom to put it in good striking position. Now you're ready for a bite! In the cold winter months, fish are less active and move slower, so keep in mind the bite will be very light.

To learn more about ice fishing, the fishing gear and equipment you need to get started and how to get a fishing license, visit TakeMeFishing.org.

posted by
Johana Reyes
Johana Reyes is the Digital Content Manager at Recreational Boating & Fishing Foundation (RBFF), a non-profit organization whose mission is to increase participation in recreational angling and boating, and thereby improve public awareness and appreciation of the need to protect, conserve and restore this nation's aquatic natural resources. She maintains the digital assets in English and Spanish for TakeMeFishing.org and VamosAPescar.org.
Join the Conversation