Wisconsin Ice Fishing

Ice fishing in Wisconsin is a popular sport during the frozen winter months. A longstanding tradition in the Badger state, ice fishing is perhaps more prevalent in Wisconsin today than ever before, and with good reason. Many highly desirable species, including walleye, panfish and northern pike, are active and catchable throughout winter.

Technology for Ice Fishing in Wisconsin

Technology has helped with ice fishing as well. The advent of power augers and heated fishing shanties has made the act of ice fishing less physically taxing than in the past. In fact, many northern resorts now offer ice fishing as a packaged activity for visitors. The recent spate of relatively dry winters has also helped the sport and art of ice fishing in Wisconsin. With a higher-than-normal proportion of Wisconsin's unmarked roads clear of snow, anglers in recent winters have access to small freshwater lakes and ponds that can usually be reached only by snowmobile.

Ice Fishing Tips for Wisconsin

If you’re thinking about heading out to try your hand at ice fishing, here are some tips.

  • Most Wisconsin ice anglers use lightly-rigged jigging poles (2- to 4-pound test for panfish, 6- to 8-pound for walleye), a few jigs and lures, small bobbers, split-shot and live bait such as minnows or waxworms.
  • When jigging for walleyes and pike, flashy minnow-tipped jigs or spoons are a great way for anglers to increase their chances while ice fishing.
  • The Jigging Rapala and the Swedish Pimple are also favorites, and small flash lures (hook size 12-14) tipped with waxworms are effective on perch and other panfish.
  • Almost all lures are more effective for ice fishing if tipped with bait such as a minnow head or tail, maggot or worm.
  • Live shiners are popular with anglers bobber-fishing for northern and walleye.