Before you hang up your fishing gear this winter, why not try your hand at ice fishing? From choosing the best ice fishing lures to finding the perfect spot to drill a hole and start angling, ice fishing allows you to trade in your traditional summer fishing techniques and immerse yourself in one of Minnesota’s favorite pastimes.
To help you get ready for the freezing temps, big catches, and all the fun challenges this winter sport entails, check out these ice fishing tips from the pros at Bagley Bait:
Pro Tip # 1: Patience is Key
As temperatures begin to drop, fish become lethargic. Their metabolisms slow way down, which causes them to act less aggressive toward their next meal. To offset this dramatic shift in their behavior, you’ll need to be patient with your presentation. Instead of using lures that create a lot of vibration or sound, opt for baits that create less movement. Some pro anglers even suggest that while ice fishing try setting the rod down completely, so that it lays motionless to attract the fish's less aggressive tendencies.
Pro Tip #2: Block Out the Light
After you’ve selected your fishing area and drilled a hole using an auger, remember to fill the open space with ice shavings. This helps prevent the sun’s rays from piercing through the surface, which may prevent bass or panfish from swimming near your fishing spot.
Pro Tip #3: Be on the Look Out
Because fish are moving slower, you’ll want to keep a close eye on your line. A slight movement or tug of the line means you’ve got a hit, and you don’t want to wait too long to reel it in. If you’re ice fishing for sunfish or walleye—fish that tend to stay closer to the bottom of a lake for food—try bouncing your bait off the base of the lake to mix up the debris. Then be on the lookout for any movement.
Pro Tip #4: Rise and Shine
Before the sun rises, get out onto the lake. Fish species tend to be more active during the early hours of the day as this is typically their prime feeding time. Pro anglers recommend that you first fish in the evening hours (after the sun has set) to find which spots are more populated. The next day, drill your hole in that same area. By doing this, you spend less time finding the right spot and more time catching trophies.
Pro Tip #5: Get the Gear
Most ice fisherman know this type of winter activity involves a lot of gear and equipment. Aside from using an auger, GPS, tip up, ice fishing lures, and so on, make sure you’re dressed properly for the occasion. Invest in quality socks and gloves, waterproof boots, and several layers to keep you protected from the freezing temperatures. The better equipped you are, the more energy you have to concentrate on the task at hand.
Whether you’re a rookie or seasoned angler, ice fishing is an ideal winter sport for everyone at any age. Of course, it can also be dangerous, so be sure to review all safety requirements and take the necessary precautions before you head out onto the lake for some fun. For more tips from the pros on how to improve your fishing techniques, stay connected to our Bagley Bait blog page.