A Beginner’s Guide to Ice Fishing in Wisconsin

Wisconsin is a premier summer fishing destination, but when the temperatures drop it’s all about ice fishing. Combine our state’s natural beauty with sought-after species like walleye, panfish and northern pike and it’s no wonder people get hooked on this winter sport.

If you’ve never gone before, it’s time you get in on the fun! Here are a few tips to get you on your way:

Keep Warm

All right, it’s a given in winter, but a good reminder never hurts. Be sure to wear wool hats, mittens, waterproof boots and always dress in layers. Ice shanties keep the wind and snow at bay while you focus on landing that big catch…you can even buy heated ones!

Catch and Release

When you do land that prize fish, protect the future of fishing and practice catch and release. Cut the line if the fish swallows the hook and remember to handle the fish gently, quickly and carefully.

Tackle & Other Equipment

An ice auger to drill holes is a must. Keep the hole clear of ice and slush with a skimmer. Taking tackle, most Wisconsin fishers use lightly rigged jigging poles (2 to 4 pound tests for panfish, 6 to 8 pound for walleye), a few jigs, lures and live bait such as minnows or waxworms. Live shiners are popular with bobber-fishing for northern and walleye.

Safety First

ALWAYS check ice conditions before heading out. Ice should be at least 4 inches thick before walking onto it, 5 if you’re traveling by snowmobile, ATV or other vehicle. Never go out alone and always make sure someone knows where you are and when you’ll return.

Still looking for a little guidance? The Wisconsin DNR is a great resource for more information on safety tips, techniques, and regulations. Good luck out there anglers!

This entry was posted in Ice Fishing, Outdoor Fun, Fishing, Winter Activities and tagged Discovery, Outdoor Fun, Exploring, Nature, Winter Sports, Travel Wisconsin, Winter