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Popular Ice Fishing Lakes In Nebraska

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Guide to favorite fish species at top ice fishing lakes in the state.

By AA-Fishing Staff Writers

Ice fishing

The best ice fishing lakes in NE include Valentine National Wildlife Refuge Lakes, Merritt Reservoir and Box Butte Reservoir. The most popular species through the ice, across the state, include bass, crappie, perch and walleye. 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.

Nebraska's winter season brings a unique fishing experience with the opportunity for ice fishing. Despite the icy conditions, anglers can still target a variety of fish species through the frozen surfaces of lakes and reservoirs. Popular fish species that can be caught while ice fishing in Nebraska include yellow perch, crappie, walleye, bluegill, and northern pike. These species are known for their activity during the winter months and can provide exciting ice fishing action. 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.

Ice Fishing Tips & Techniques Video

Ice fishing methods in Nebraska typically involve drilling holes in the ice and setting up ice fishing shelters or portable ice fishing tents for protection from the cold weather. Anglers use specialized ice fishing gear, such as ice fishing rods, tip-ups, and ice augers, to make the fishing process more efficient. Techniques like jigging, tip-up fishing, and using live bait or artificial lures are commonly employed to entice fish to bite.

Safety is paramount when engaging in ice fishing in Nebraska. It is crucial to ensure that the ice is thick enough to support the weight of anglers and their equipment. Ice thickness of at least four inches is generally considered safe for foot traffic, while six to eight inches or more is recommended for small vehicles. Checking the ice thickness regularly and being cautious around areas with flowing water or changing ice conditions is essential to avoid accidents.

Anglers should also dress appropriately for the cold weather, wearing multiple layers of warm clothing, insulated boots, gloves, and hats to stay comfortable and protected from frostbite. It is recommended to bring safety equipment like ice picks, a flotation device, and a throw rope in case of emergencies. Ice fishing with a friend or in groups is advisable for added safety.

Before heading out, it is essential to check local regulations, obtain the necessary fishing licenses, and be aware of any specific rules or restrictions for ice fishing in the chosen location. Staying informed and following proper fishing etiquette help preserve the natural environment and ensure an enjoyable ice fishing experience for all.

Nebraska's ice fishing season provides anglers with a unique opportunity to explore the frozen lakes and catch a variety of fish species. By employing the right methods, prioritizing safety, and respecting the environment, ice fishing enthusiasts can enjoy a thrilling and rewarding fishing adventure in the midst of winter's icy embrace.

Fishing Boats For Rent In NE

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 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 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 catfish

Fishing techniques mirror those for bass and crappie. More emphasis is places on added baits (minnows, worms, prepared bait), and location can be very important. Find a ledge or point that is in 20 foot range on top, dropping to 30 feet or more directly off the side. See more information on ice fishing for catfish.

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 Nebraska Fishing License.

Nebraska Map


States with notable ice fishing.

AZ Ice Fishing CA Ice Fishing CO Ice Fishing CT Ice Fishing IA Ice Fishing ID Ice Fishing IL Ice Fishing IN Ice Fishing
KS Ice Fishing MA Ice Fishing MD Ice Fishing ME Ice Fishing MI Ice Fishing MN Ice Fishing MT Ice Fishing ND Ice Fishing
NE Ice Fishing NH Ice Fishing NJ Ice Fishing NM Ice Fishing NV Ice Fishing NY Ice Fishing OH Ice Fishing OR Ice Fishing
PA Ice Fishing RI Ice Fishing SD Ice Fishing UT Ice Fishing VT Ice Fishing WA Ice Fishing WI Ice Fishing WY Ice Fishing