Determining the best ice fishing places can be difficult because there are so many ice fishing destination options across the north. However, looking over lists of best ice fishing places in the U.S. on the internet, there are several things that these locations have in common.
The first component of all of the best ice fishing places is, well, ice. Lots of it. It is recommended that at least 4” of ice be formed to support the weight of an angler. Some lakes in states most noted for ice fishing such as Minnesota, North Dakota, or Wisconsin may even achieve ice thick enough to drive on (12-15”)! Whatever the thickness, it is a good idea to take precautions such as wearing a life vest, carrying safety ice picks, and never fishing alone.
When trying to determine where to go ice fishing, keep in mind that the best ice fishing places are areas that are productive when water is open too. If you’ve struggled catching fish on a lake during warmer months, there is a good chance you may not have much patience for fishing through the ice either. However, if you’ve at least seen lots of smaller fish on this lake, one of the ice fishing basics is to reduce the size of your gear, both line and hooks sizes. This smaller and slower presentation could help you discover a new bite.
And speaking of productive waters, it is hard to beat a farm pond for learning how to ice fish. Here, fish are highly concentrated in a much smaller body of water. This greatly increases your chances of gaining some ice fishing confidence to then try to carry over while shivering on larger bodies of hard water.
Consider the knowledge you’ve gained on open water when deciding where to go ice fishing once on productive water over safe ice. You may need to drill many holes to locate that deeper channel, weed edge, firmer bottom, or piece of submerged structure that can make a successful outing. If your fishing license is up to date, find a buddy and go punch some holes in some safe ice. You just may find some new best ice fishing places!
Andy is an outdoor writer (http://www.justkeepreeling.com/) and stressed-out Dad has contributed over 380 blogs to takemefishing.org since 2011. Born in Florida, but raised on banks of Oklahoma farm ponds, he now chases pike, smallmouth bass, and steelhead in Pennsylvania. After earning a B.S. in Zoology from OSU, he worked in fish hatcheries and as a fisheries research technician at OSU, Iowa State, and Michigan State.