Ice Fishing Lakes In Minnesota
Guide to favorite fish species at top ice fishing lakes in the state.
The best ice fishing lakes in MN include Lake of the Woods, Mille Lacs Lake and Lake Winnibigoshish. The most popular species through the ice, across the state, include walleye, perch and pike. The purpose of this page is to share basic information about the best ice fishing lakes in the state, plus the species found in each lake. See a list of lakes and species below.
Ice fishing is as basic as fishing gets. During winter, it is popular here in the state. Aside from the tools one uses to create a hole in the ice, all other gear is very basic. A simple rod, reel, line and hook or lure is all you need. Lures, live bait and prepared bait are options, depending on the fish species in the lake or pond.
Ice fishing is a popular winter activity in Minnesota, offering anglers the opportunity to fish for a variety of species in the frozen lakes. Some of the common fish species targeted during ice fishing in Minnesota include walleye, northern pike, perch, crappie, bluegill, and sunfish. These species are known to thrive in the colder waters and provide exciting ice fishing experiences.
Ice Fishing Tips & Techniques Video
Anglers employ various methods and techniques to catch fish while ice fishing in Minnesota. One commonly used method is setting up tip-ups or tip-downs, which are mechanical devices that signal when a fish takes the bait. Anglers drill holes in the ice, place the devices, and wait for the fish to bite. Jigging is another popular technique, where anglers use ice fishing rods and small jigs or lures to entice fish. By moving the bait up and down or in a specific pattern, anglers attract fish to bite.
Safety is of utmost importance when engaging in ice fishing in Minnesota. Before heading out onto the ice, it is crucial to check the ice thickness, ensuring it is safe for fishing. Ice thickness should be at least four inches for individuals on foot and even thicker for vehicles or groups. Anglers should also carry essential safety gear, including ice picks, a throwable flotation device, and a rope or cord for emergency situations. It's recommended to fish with a buddy and inform others about the fishing location and estimated return time. Keeping an eye on changing weather conditions and avoiding areas with cracks, currents, or weak ice is vital for a safe ice fishing experience.
Minnesota's frozen lakes provide an exciting opportunity for anglers to enjoy ice fishing during the winter months. Whether it's the thrill of hooking a walleye, the challenge of landing a northern pike, or the fun of reeling in panfish, ice fishing in Minnesota offers a unique and memorable fishing experience. By following safety guidelines and utilizing appropriate techniques, anglers can make the most of their ice fishing adventures while enjoying the winter beauty of Minnesota's frozen landscapes.
Top Ice Fishing Lakes & Species
There are numerous places to go ice fishing in the state. Here are a list of some of the proven, best destinations.
Upper Red Lake
Click the images for species details.
This is a great way to get the kids to go outdoors in winter, connect with nature and learn to fish. The first consideration when attempting to go ice fishing, is safety. Make sure the ice is safe, and that you are prepared should an accident occur. Dress to stay warm - it's better to remove extra jackets than be cold and miserable. Be aware that the ice can be slippery, and falls can be dangerous.
Click here for ice fishing basics, including details on finding the best place to fish, tips for cutting a hole, basic tackle, bait, lures, depths to fish, safety, shanty's, tents and huts.
Best ice fishing method for crappie, bluegill, perch and sunfish
Horizontal jigs and spoon-type baits are the go-to baits for crappie, either tipped with a minnow, wax worm or prepared baits often triggers more bites. Jigs work better close to the bottom, spoons tend to work better higher in the water column. If options allow, 15 to 30 feet is the most common depth. Adjust as necessary. See additional info on ice fishing for crappie, perch and sunfish.
Best ice fishing method for walleye
Four basic lures are all you need. Ice jigs are minnow shaped with a tail that causes them to fall in a circular patter. Drop them to the desired depth (often to the bottom), then lift the bait a few feet to let it fall on slack line. Spoons: Metal slabs in chrome or a wide array of colors are used to jig up-and-down mimicking a dying baitfish. Lipless crankbaits: Fish like a spoon. Jigs: Use slightly larger jigs than for crappie, preferably with a flashing blade attached. Tip with live bait and let it sit, up a ways from the bottom typically 1 to 3 feet. A general tip is to always keep your bait off the bottom, one to 5 feet is an ideal place to start. Additional information about ice fishing for walleye.
Best ice fishing method for pike and musky
Live bait, shiners and sunfish, are a great way to attract these big fellahs, assuming local law allows their use. Heavier line, steel leaders, bigger hooks and stronger tip-ups are in order. See more information on ice fishing for pike and musky.
Click here for a Minnesota Fishing License.
States with notable ice fishing.