Popular Ice Fishing Lakes In Washington
Guide to favorite fish species at top ice fishing lakes in the state.
The best ice fishing lakes in WA include Moses Lake, Fish Lake and Patterson Lake. The most popular species are yellow perch, black crappie and rainbow trout. 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.
Washington state offers exciting ice fishing opportunities during the winter months, allowing anglers to experience a unique and thrilling fishing adventure. Although ice fishing is less common in Washington compared to other colder regions, there are still several lakes and reservoirs where anglers can enjoy this icy pursuit.
Popular fish species targeted during ice fishing in Washington include trout, kokanee salmon, yellow perch, and crappie. Lakes such as Fish Lake, Sprague Lake, and Scooteney Reservoir are known to provide productive ice fishing for these species. Anglers drill holes through the ice and use specialized ice fishing gear, including ice rods, ice augers, and tip-ups, to entice and catch fish beneath the frozen surface.
Ice fishing methods in Washington typically involve using bait or lures to attract fish. Anglers often employ techniques such as jigging, where a jig or lure is moved up and down in the water column to entice fish to bite. Bait options may include worms, maggots, or small minnows. Tip-ups, which are mechanical devices that suspend baited hooks below the ice, are also commonly used to target larger species like trout or salmon.
Safety is paramount when participating in ice fishing. Before venturing out onto the ice, it is crucial to ensure that the ice is thick enough to support your weight. A minimum ice thickness of 4 inches is generally recommended for walking, while 6-8 inches is preferred for ice fishing. It's important to check local ice conditions and consult with experienced ice anglers or authorities for up-to-date information.
Ice fishing safety equipment should always be carried, including ice picks or awls to aid in self-rescue if you fall through the ice, a flotation device or life jacket, and appropriate cold-weather gear. It is also wise to fish with a partner and inform others of your plans and expected return time. Keeping a safe distance from other anglers on the ice and being aware of changing weather conditions are essential for a safe and enjoyable ice fishing experience.
Ice fishing in Washington provides a thrilling and unique way to enjoy the winter season. Anglers can appreciate the serene beauty of frozen lakes while pursuing a variety of fish species. By practicing safe ice fishing techniques and following precautions, anglers can have a memorable and successful ice fishing adventure in the beautiful winter landscapes of Washington state.
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.
Ice Fishing Tips & Techniques Video
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 trout
Trout focus on small forage fish in winter, so baits that flash silver - jigs or spoons, do well in attracting trout. Dual rods, where legal, are very effective. One rod with a jig/live bait set up on a tip-up, the second with a spoon fished up and down pretty aggressively. See more detail about ice fishing for trout.
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.
Click here for a Washington fishing license.
States with notable ice fishing.