Book Now

February 15, 2021

Author Image

Team Guidesly

Top 6 Ice Fishing Targets: What can you expect to catch when Ice Fishing?

Top 6 Ice Fishing Targets: What can you expect to catch when Ice Fishing?

Ice Fishing has picked up a lot of popularity over the last few years in particular. More and more anglers are taking to frozen over lakes, cutting some holes and fishing with friends and family. While any location that has water and actual winters can give anglers the chance to try this form of fishing, Lule River in Sweden is considered to be the Top place in the world to go ice fishing. 

While you're preparing for your day of ice fishing, getting all your gear together, have you thought about what kind of fish you are going after? The top fish targets in ice fishing include yellow perch, walleye, largemouth bass, smallmouth bass, trout, and pike.


Yellow Perch

American Yellow Perch Fish

If you’re looking for a fish that puts up a good fight, a Yellow Perch might fit your bill. They’re known to be fairly aggressive. They’ll kick up a fuss and bite on traditional set-ups. Yellow Perches adapt well to cold water, making them a prime target for ice fishing. They’re quite plentiful especially in waters up north.

When catching a Yellow Perch, people usually recommend using a 4 lb test line. People use tip-ups now and then but find success also in the traditional rod and reel. Some people would also recommend using braided lines to catch them to withstand the cold. People usually start fishing for them in mudflats and would often drill multiple holes by using a powered ice chisel or saw to find them. It also helps if you have a sonar machine to track them down beneath the ice.



Arctic Char Fish

When ice fishing for a Walleye, your best time would be at the start of May to February of next year. Although it’s winter, Walleyes don’t change their habitats. They’re still found in humps, narrows, and drop-offs. As for their distribution, some say that the best place to go ice fishing for a Walleye is in the bigger lakes of Minnesota such as Upper Red, Mille Lacs, Leech, and Lake of the Woods. 

When ice fishing for a Walleye, start drilling holes in places where they normally feed. Usually, Walleyes will be hiding there since the water might be a little warmer for them. As for the fishing technique, some people go for jigging with a lure. Sometimes, they even use live-bait or cut bait. Minnows are a common live bait but if it’s not possible to keep alive, anglers just behead the minnow and use its head as bait.


Largemouth Bass & Smallmouth Bass

Surprisingly, Largemouth Bass are still active even with the water dropping several degrees lower than usual. They also often congregate instead, making it easier for you to catch ‘em. When Largemouth Bass congregate, it’s usually because they’re looking for food that is found in weed lines. They stay in waters that are at least 30 feet deep.

The hardest part in finding a Largemouth Bass is where they live. Although yes, their range is smaller - they also tend to hide in the deeper parts so your sonar may not reach those areas at times. Largemouth Bass also have a slower metabolism so while they will bite their movement may not be as quick.

Their smallmouth cousin appears to be more active than them. However, their placement is different. While the Largemouth Bass prefer weed lines, Smallmouth Bass prefer to hide in rocks. The Smallmouth Bass also happens to stay in waters that are more or less 40-50 feet deep. They also prefer to be in a small school of fish, unlike the Largemouth Bass that prefers swimming solo.

Check out the best fishing places for Bass in Florida!



Lake Trout Fish

Trouts are one of the most popular ice fishing targets. They put up a good fight and are known to take to a variety of lures and baits - whether live or artificial. Anglers would normally go out to catch your run-in-the-mill Lake Trout for good food. But for those who love a good battle and are also in for the aesthetic, some of these anglers go for the Rainbow Trout!

Unlike other fish, Trout become more pelagic when winter comes. They move towards waters that are at least 3-4 feet deep. As for your equipment, it depends on what kind of trout you’re going for. People can catch Lake Trouts with a medium action reel whereas Rainbow Trouts need something leaning more to the medium-heavy side. 

Trouts are anxious fish. They get spooked easy so moving around and doing tip-ups may not be a good idea. Staying completely stationary gives you a better chance of catching one of those trouts.



Pikes especially the Northern Pikes are a prime target for ice fishing. They’re also one of the few species that are more active in cold water, similar to the Trout. These fish also need a little more aggressive fishing when looking for them. Pikes also put up a good fight and can appear to be quite a good catch.

Unlike other fish, Pikes don’t mind if their minnows have been in the freezer for a while. Some people are more prone to catching Pikes because of how live baits can’t survive in freezing waters. Other people keep them in insulated boxes so their baits don’t turn into fishsicles. For lines, some people opt for an 8-10 lbs monofilament test line but others use 20 lbs for shelters. 


There are other fish in the frozen lakes!

Asides from those top 6, people go out also to fish for occasional crappie and sunfish. But before going out, make sure to check if the ice is thick enough. The common mistake of most newbie anglers is that they go to lakes without checking the thickness of the ice. This leads to big-time accidents and it makes people phobic of fishing.

Make sure also to check the weather. Nobody wants to freeze their fingers and toes off over one fish. Always come equipped with a minnow bait box, an ice fishing rod, tracking devices, and shelters - if you’re the type to trap fish rather than fight with it. Make sure you’re constantly equipped with the right ice fishing gear to make the most out of your fishing trip.