Where to go Ice Fish

It is the middle of winter and seriously cold now in the Northeast.  Some anglers, like me, may be suffering from fishing withdrawal from the lack of open water. Others actually look forward to these conditions and can’t wait to get out and “walk on water.” If you were “good” and Santa brought you some ice fishing equipment, do you know where to start?

Here are some tips on where to ice fishing:

1. Safe ice. This is the first requirement for ice fishing. It is recommended that at least 4” of ice be formed to support the weight of an angler. 5” makes me more comfortable. Being out on a frozen lake is a lot of fun, but use caution.  Stay safe and always wear a life jacket, safety picks, and don’t fish alone.

2. Ponds. Ponds are a great place where you can ice fish and build your confidence even during the winter months.The concentration of fish in a small area lets you play with various presentations to sluggish fish. When you figure something out, that technique will help you keep trying on larger bodies of water. 

3. Edges. Weed edges are a great place to start ice fishing. If you have fished the lake by boat, you may already have a good idea of weed line locations. If not, contour maps will be helpful as weeds are usually limited to shallower parts of the lake.

4. Deep. Contour maps will also reveal the deeper holes or old channels. Fish have a tendency to “sulk” in these deeper places to fish during parts of winter.

5. Structure. Just as with open water fishing, fish still relate to structure. Did you find a brush pile on your electronics? That might be a gold mine of bluegill and crappie.

6. Bottom. Pay attention to how the bottom feels. When I'm looking for a place where I can go ice fishing, I usually look for a firmer lake bottom with some rocks or boulders. However, there are times when a lure jigged up and down to stir up some silt will attract fish such as yellow perch.  

7. Not there. Give it a little while, then move and punch some more holes. In general, you are more likely to go to the fish than bring the fish to you. 

If your fishing license is up to date, find a buddy and go punch some holes in some safe ice. You just may find a way to help you make it to spring! 

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Andy Whitcomb

Andy Whitcomb

Andy Whitcomb is a columnist, outdoor humorist, and stressed-out Dad. He says there are “people who fish”… and there are “fishermen”.  One of the few things he knows is that he is a “fisherman”...  To the point it could be classified as borderline illness.  Sharing this obsession is rewarding, therapeutic. He likes to encourage people to “stop and smell the crappie."  Enjoys catching fish, but gets a greater thrill out of helping someone else hook up.
Born in Florida, but raised on the banks of Oklahoma farm ponds. Now relocated to western Pennsylvania. He has fished, worked, lived all around the US.  He has a B.S. in Zoology from Oklahoma State as well...
And he met his wife while electrofishing. He has been contributing weekly to www.takemefishing.org since 2011.