Learn how to Begin Ice Fishing in eight Straightforward Steps

Ice fishing is an amazing winter sport that involves catching fish in frozen lakes. You don’t need a boat or expensive gizmos, just a few tools to cut holes in the ice and some basic gear to fish them. Ice fishing is fun for the whole family and you can get started in 8 easy steps.

Step 1

Find a good fishing spot on the Where to Boat and Fish map. Target the first 50-100 yards from shore in depths of 5-15 feet. Try to fish near other anglers who have likely found some fish on safe ice.

Step 2

Make sure the lake you choose has safe ice, at least 5 inches thick. You can check ice reports at your local bait shop. Drill holes as you walk out every 10-20 yards to check ice thickness.

Step 3

Staying warm and safe on the ice is critically important. Make sure to dress up in warm winter clothes and gear up on the safety items below.

  • Safety Picks: Ice picks worn around the neck to pull yourself back onto the ice if you fall in
  • Life Jacket: Flotation device in case you fall in
  • Cleats: Metal spikes worn on your boots to safely walk on ice

Step 4

Equip yourself with essential ice fishing gear. The checklist below contains the necessities to get out and fish through the ice.

  • Auger: 6 to 10-inch ice drill that rotates to cut holes in the ice
  • Scoop: Small ladle to clear slush out from your ice hole
  • Ice Rod & Reel: Smaller reel on a 28-inch rod to conveniently fish over a hole
  • Ice Jig Heads: Small metal jigs with small hooks to fish live/artificial ice bait
  • Spikes: Live wax worms used as bait to entice a bite

Step 5

Drill your holes and scoop out your slush with an ice scoop.

Step 6

Tie on your ice jig and bait it with 2-3 spikes.

Step 7

Jig your bait 1-2 feet off the bottom with small lifts and pauses. Bites often happen on the pause.

Step 8

Reel your fish up, remove the hook and gently work the fish’s tail back in the hole to release.

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