Reminders for Ice Fishing Ponds

By Andy Whitcomb

Dec 04, 2020

Pond ice fishing can be a great way to gain confidence before ice fishing larger waters.

Pond fishing can be a great confidence builder for anglers of all ages and skill levels. Kids love ponds because of the generally higher concentration of cooperative fish like bluegill. Experienced anglers also utilize ponds when testing unfamiliar lures or techniques. Because of the limited time with safe ice, ice fishing ponds is good way to knock the rust off ice fishing gear.

Ice should be at least 4 inches to hold an angler, so don’t be too anxious to venture out in the cold. Let the ice grow for a while, and then proceed with caution. A life jacket, ice picks, and a buddy, adventuresome enough to brave the cold, are among the smart ice fishing tips.

Your local ice fishing prospects do not need be very large. Any fish is fun through the ice, especially when you’ve got a bit of cabin fever. You might be pleasantly surprised by ponds that normally get passed by when in search of larger fish during warmer periods.

It is a good idea to downsize when ice fishing by using thinner, lighter weight fishing line and smaller hooks. Traditionally, the best bait for bass, through the ice or not, is a minnow of some type such as a fathead minnow or golden shiner. If you can’t find these in your local ice fishing bait shop, there is a high likelihood that nightcrawlers are in the proprietor’s fridge for a respectable Plan B.

Electronics are helpful for knowing where to fish, especially on larger bodies of water but for ice fishing ponds, there really isn’t that far for fish to move. Start by dropping bait in the deepest basin. Fish often are grouped together in deep water. However, they may be suspended off the bottom so you’ll to present your bait at various depths in the water column. Once a bite is detected, keep track of the exact depth. This can be accomplished with a bobber stop or by counting the number of turns on the reel.

Ponds are relatively shallower than lakes so when you make holes, the noise may spook fish. Patience is important because even if you are in the right ice fishing spots, noisy gas-powered or even grinding hand-powered ice augers could make fish tight lipped. As with open water pond fishing tips, sometimes you simply need to let the fish rest and recover. If the fish are ill tempered initially, maybe quietly revisit the holes after using another part of ice fishing ponds gear: a thermos of hot chocolate.

Andy Whitcomb
Andy Whitcomb
Andy is an outdoor writer ( and stressed-out Dad has contributed over 380 blogs to 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.