Ice Fishing Lakes In North Dakota
Guide to favorite fish species at top ice fishing lakes in the state.
The best ice fishing lakes in ND include Devil’s Lake, Lake Sakakawea and Lake Metigoshe. The most popular species through the ice, across the state, include walleye, yellow perch and northern 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.
North Dakota is renowned for its ice fishing opportunities during the winter months. Anglers can brave the frozen lakes and experience the thrill of ice fishing while targeting a variety of fish species.
Ice Fishing Tips & Techniques Video
One of the most popular fish species sought after during ice fishing in North Dakota is walleye. These prized game fish can be found in many of the state's lakes and are known for their delicious taste. Anglers also target other species such as northern pike, perch, crappie, and bluegill while ice fishing. These fish provide exciting action and make for a memorable ice fishing experience.
Ice fishing in North Dakota typically involves drilling holes in the ice using augers and setting up portable ice shelters or fish houses to provide shelter from the cold weather. Anglers use a variety of fishing techniques including jigging, using tip-ups or tip-downs, and using live or artificial bait to attract the fish. Ice fishing gear such as ice fishing rods, reels, and ice augers are essential tools for a successful ice fishing outing.
Safety is of utmost importance when it comes to ice fishing in North Dakota. Before venturing out onto the ice, it's crucial to check the ice conditions and ensure that the ice is thick enough to support your weight. Ice thickness of at least 4 inches is generally considered safe for walking, while a minimum of 6-8 inches is recommended for ice fishing. It's also essential to dress warmly, wear appropriate winter clothing, and carry safety equipment such as ice picks, a life jacket, and a rope in case of emergencies.
It is recommended to fish with a partner or in a group, as it enhances safety and provides assistance in case of accidents or emergencies. It's also advisable to inform someone about your ice fishing plans, including the location and expected return time.
Ice fishing in North Dakota offers a unique and exciting angling experience during the winter months. With proper preparation, knowledge of ice safety, and adherence to fishing regulations, anglers can enjoy a safe and rewarding ice fishing adventure while targeting a variety of fish species beneath the frozen surface of the state's lakes.
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.
Click the images for species details.
This is a great way to get the kids to spend time 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 bass
Bass are often found closer to the shoreline than schooling fish. Fish the same as other species, using a bit larger baits and slightly heavier line. Be prepared to battle using your drag if you hook a big one. Additional information about ice fishing for largemouth and smallmouth bass.
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 North Dakota Fishing License.
North Dakota Map
States with notable ice fishing.