If you love fishing, just because there’s frost on the ground, is no reason to hang up your rod and reel until the snow starts melting in spring.
Winter is that time of the year to enjoy one of the most underrated activities on the planet, ice fishing.
So irrespective of whether you use worms or cheese for bait, or are trying to catch whitefish or walleye, the sport of ice fishing is incredibly fun for all those who are willing to brave the frozen waters.
While it may not be as comfortable as fishing in fair weather, ice fishing is one of the best ways to stay active during the winter season.
And the bonus is that there are dozens of wonderful ice fishing locations that you can visit to enjoy your hobby. So let’s take a look at some of them.
- 1 1. Fort Peck Lake, Montana
- 2 2. Lake of the Woods, Ontario, Minnesota
- 3 3. Devils Lake, North Dakota
- 4 4. Lake Champlain, Vermont, New York
- 5 5. Higgins, Michigan
- 6 6. Kathleen Lake, Yukon Territory
- 7 7. Lake Simcoe, Ontario
- 8 8. Antero Reservoir, Colorado
- 9 9. Caples Lake, California
- 10 10. Lake Winnipeg, Manitoba
- 11 Conclusion
1. Fort Peck Lake, Montana
This Lake is huge.
In fact, there is no way around it.
There are more than 1500 miles of shoreline, waters are as deep as 200 feet, and there are more than 50 kinds of fish in the reservoir.
It’s also the fourth largest man-made Lake in the country with a lot to offer but has one major drawback, and that is it’s not close to much of anything.
The closest town to this Lake is Jordan, which has a population of fewer than 400 people, and the Lake itself is within half a day’s drive of any major airport or city.
However, for those who don’t mind spending the time to make the trip, this Lake is absolutely incredible. The regulations are rather laid-back, meaning you can go a full 24 hours between tip up checks.
2. Lake of the Woods, Ontario, Minnesota
This enchanting and massive Lake is home to a huge variety of fish, enough to satisfy any ice anglers appetite.
It is situated on the US – Canada border between Minnesota and the Canadian provinces of Manitoba and Ontario.
This enormous body of water with over 65,000 miles of shoreline and 14,552 islands within it is a treat for any ice angler.
Some of the fish that you will find here include walleye, trout, Sauger and perch as well as the occasional muskie which is abundantly available depending on the time of year.
3. Devils Lake, North Dakota
Devils Lake in North Dakota is more than just a fishing destination; in fact, it is unlike any other.
According to the tourism board, the fish are large and healthy, the winter season is long, and the lake is massive meaning that you can avoid tangling your lines with any other eager angler.
You will need to grab a license based on how long you are planning on ice fishing on the lake, and once you do, you’ll have your fair pick of jumbo perch, big pike and walleye.
4. Lake Champlain, Vermont, New York
One of the most popular places to go ice fishing on the East Coast, this Lake is well known.
It extends from the southern portion of Quebec through to Vermont and New York State.
It’s also home to a wide variety of species such as perch, lake trout, crappie, pike and walleye, as well as landlocked salmon.
Ice fishing season starts early December in the northern portion of the Lake as the passages and bays freeze over.
As winter progresses, more of the Lake begins to freeze over including the open areas holding large populations of pike, smelt and perch.
If you are short on gear, you’ll find many fishing outfitters ready to assist you. They will also go the extra mile and provide some inside info on where the fish are biting.
5. Higgins, Michigan
Higgins is a relatively small lake but still an ice fisherman’s paradise.
It is famous for species such as trout and smelt, but it’s deep waters are home to a range of other fish such as yellow perch and pike.
Although it’s small, it’s so much deeper than the neighboring Houghton Lake, so it’s still slower to freeze over and is not really safe to fish until mid-January.
If you are targeting lake trout, you’ll want to fish in deep water and use smelt cuts or mountain shiners as bait.
If you’re going after perch, stick to the shallow parts of the Lake that are closer to the shore.
The perch in this Lake do not grow big but are the perfect size for eating, and they’re fairly easy to catch.
6. Kathleen Lake, Yukon Territory
One of the best places to go ice fishing for trout and a beautiful destination as well is this stunning Lake situated in the remote northern Canadian territory.
It is situated within the vast Kluane National Park and Reserve and is known for its healthy population of Lake Trout, rainbow trout and Arctic grayling.
Since it’s so remote, the Lake is ideally accessed by snowmobile, and it’s one of the few lakes that allow open fires on the ice.
The trout are abundant here, and you’re likely to catch enough fish for a good barbecue.
Aside from fishing, the area is filled with lots of outdoor enthusiasts and features excellent dog-sledding, cross-country skiing, snowmobiling and snowshoeing.
7. Lake Simcoe, Ontario
Lake Simcoe is one of the most popular ice fishing lakes in the world.
It houses a number of ice fishing tournaments each year and has a healthy population of pike, jumbo yellow perch, lake trout and whitefish.
Located approximately 40 minutes north of Toronto, the Lake is one of the best places on the East Coast for ice fishing and a great weekend getaway.
8. Antero Reservoir, Colorado
This is a reservoir operated by Denver Water, and the locals refer to it as “truly a circus” on the weekends.
However, if you ever find yourself in Denver and want to get away for the day to indulge your ice fishing hobby, you’ll find an abundance of trophy-sized fish just waiting to be caught.
There’s also an abundance of fresh-water fish like shrimp, brown trout, rainbow trout, Snake River cutthroat, cut bows, Kokanee salmon as well as greenback cutthroat.
9. Caples Lake, California
You can ice fish in California, contrary to popular belief.
Caples Lake is the ideal place to do so. And rainbow and Brook trout are abundant in this locale which is situated high in the Sierra Nevada Mountains near South Lake Tahoe.
10. Lake Winnipeg, Manitoba
Some of the largest walleye in the world are found in this Lake.
So if giant walleye is what you like to fish, you’ll find some incredibly healthy specimens in massive Lake Winnipeg.
In the past, due to massive flooding, walleye have had favorable spawning conditions, which have led to unusually large and healthy fish stocks.
Lake Winnipeg also has good food sources for walleye, so these fish grow much larger than in other lakes.
The Lake itself is vast, and it is the third-largest freshwater Lake in Canada. It’s also relatively shallow, and most of it is around 40 feet deep.
Ice fishing is usually done in the southern portion of the Lake, where up to 3000 anglers can be found fishing most weekends during the season.
Since temperatures can drop pretty low here, you need to make sure that you are properly outfitted with insulated gear, bibs, fishing gloves as well as jackets.
With so many wonderful fishing spots to explore, there is no reason for you to barricade yourself indoors during the winter season.
Simply grab a fishing pole and a few buddies and experience an amazing ice fishing vacation at some of the greatest fishing holes around.