Ice Fishing Tips for Minnesota

Ice Fishing Tips for Minnesota
The concept of ice fishing can be humorous to people who live in places where the water stays open year-round. However, in Minnesota, people have to fish on the ice if they want to to fish year round. Some anglers actually prefer ice fishing to open-water fishing, while others don't care whether they are in a boat or on the ice--just so long as they are fishing.

Lake selection

The Minnesota Department of Natural Resources (DNR) has on its website a list of many lakes in the state. There is a variety of information on each lake, including fish population survey data, water depth and clarity, and the locations of public accesses, which can be helpful for ice anglers looking to get on the lake.

Minnesota Department of Natural Resources

Outfit properly

The equipment used for ice fishing is generally smaller than that used for open-water fishing. Three feet is about the maximum length of an ice-fishing rod. The reels used to hold the line are smaller, too, since the most common size of an ice-fishing line is 2- to 4-pound test. However, fishermen should select their equipment based on the size of fish they are targeting. Light-action rods and thin line are good for species like sunfish and crappies, but anglers need to use thicker line and heavier rods for larger fish like pike and walleyes. Minnows are a popular winter bait, and anglers often fish them with a jig. Jigging spoons are another good option.

Proceed with caution

Many anglers want to get on the ice as soon as possible, since many believe first ice is the best time for ice fishing. But every year in Minnesota, some anglers fall through the ice, and it is usually those who try to walk or drive on it before it is sufficiently thick. The DNR advises anglers not to walk on the ice until it is 4 inches or thicker.

Follow the fish

A common winter sight in Minnesota is groups of fish houses that resemble a small town on the ice. Many anglers put these houses on the ice as soon as the ice is thick enough, then leave it there for the rest of the season. When the fish are in that vicinity, those anglers are likely to catch fish. But if the fish are not in the area, those anglers do not catch fish. Because fish move throughout the year, so, too, should anglers. Some of the anglers who experience the most success stay on the move, using their augers to drill holes in the ice until they find a spot where they catch fish. When the bite stops, they move again. Target likely ice-fishing spots like edges of underwater reefs, drop-offs and any green vegetation you can find.

Lake ideas

Nearly any lake can be suitable for ice fishing, but some lakes are more popular than others. In general, a good fishing lake is good all times of the year, whether the water is open or ice-covered. Some lakes to keep in mind are Upper Red, Leech, Winnibigoshish, Mille Lacs, Lake of the Woods and Cass.

Article Written By Larry Anderson

Larry Anderson has been a freelance writer since 2000. He has covered a wide variety of topics, from golf and baseball to hunting and fishing. His work has appeared in numerous print and online publications, including "Fargo Forum" newspaper. Anderson holds a Bachelor of Arts in print journalism from Concordia College.

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