5 Tips for Successful Ice Fishing

As a popular winter activity in the Northwoods, ice fishing can be a rewarding experience whether with friends, family or all alone in the quiet solitude of nature.


It's even better when the frozen lake you're planning on visiting is just feet from your cabin's door. With some guests fishing our lake for over a decade, we asked them to share a thing or two they learned along the way for those who may want to give it a try. 

man ice fishing in Minocqua on Amber Lake

From what gear to use to finding the perfect spot on the lake, here are 5 tips that will provide you with the beginner information you need to be successful on your next ice fishing adventure up north!


When you’re ready to book your next ice fishing trip, give Birch Trail Resort a call. We’ll make sure the cabin is nice and warm for you when you get here!


5 tips for successful ice fishing:


Buying the Right Gear

The first step in successful ice fishing is to make sure you're outfitted with the right gear. There are a number of different types of equipment to choose from, like ice fishing rods and reels, tackle, bait, outerwear and more.


If you're new to ice fishing, we recommend starting with a basic rod and reel combo for simplicity's sake. You’ll also need an auger (grab a manual to start with), a variety of jigs and bait (depending on the type of fish you’re going after, a bucket for carrying your gear to the ice (and sitting on after you’re set up), a mini shovel to clear the snow and VERY warm clothes.


But, if you want something more specialized, there are plenty of local bait shop owners here in Minocqua that would LOVE to help you find just the right combination of gear.

A group of people standing near ice fishing hole happy to be fishing

Dressing Warm

While we went over this topic in-depth in this previous article, it can’t be expressed enough how important it is to dress for the season. This means plenty of layers, covering every bit of exposed skin if possible, and regulating your temperature on the ice.


Start the layers at home, and gradually add them as you cool off outside. The goal is to never overheat or get chilled. Overheating causes sweating which creates a very uncomfortable environment throughout the day as the sweat have no way of evaporating. And getting chilled, well, it speaks for itself why you wouldn't want it. The only way to enjoy a nice long day of ice fishing is to make sure you are bundled up appropriately.


Setting Up Your Spot on the Ice

As with any fishing trip, you'll want to spend some time making sure that your fishing spot is ideal. The key is to find a place that is sheltered from the wind, but open enough to allow the sunshine to warm your bones and give you plenty of light to see what you're doing. Try looking for a spot with less snow coverage to allow better access to the water and help you easily move around.


You'll also want to avoid places near shorelines or areas with rocks or gravel because these will make it difficult for your fishing line to run freely across the ice. Once you've found a good spot, clear off the snow by scraping it away with a spade or shovel before setting up camp.



Fishing Techniques

Ice fishing is a popular sport that many people enjoy. The thrill of the catch is exciting for even the most experienced fisherman. Whether you're a beginner or an expert, there are several techniques to use when ice fishing. A simple google search of the following techniques, and a few hours of good reading, and you'll have all the information you need to catch the next big one on the ice:

  • Vertical Jigging

  • Trolling with bait or lures

  • Straight down jigging

  • Bottom bouncing

  • Rapid jigging

  • Flash Fishing with light attractors

Safety Tips

Ice fishing is an exhilarating experience, but as with anything in nature, it can also be dangerous. You need to know how to prepare before you head out onto the ice.


Dress in layers - keeping your extremities warm is key and we can’t express this enough! When choosing your attire for the day, make sure you dress in layers, including long underwear, insulated boots or an extra pair of socks, a hat, gloves and a coat with a hood.


Bring along a buddy - never go out alone! It's always best to bring someone with you on the ice so that if something goes wrong, they can come to your rescue or call for help if need be. Plus, sharing stories on the ice makes the trip that much more fun!


Pack plenty of warm drinks & snacks - staying hydrated and fed are important when out on the ice all day! Bring along plenty of water bottles and bundled snacks like protein bars or granola bars to keep your energy up while fishing.


Be prepared for inclement weather - storms can happen without warning. While the cabins at Birch Trail are mere feet from the water’s edge, making it easy to get to safety quickly, it’s still important to keep a close eye on the sky. If it looks like a storm is brewing or snow is on the way, pack up camp and head in. There’s simply no reason to risk it.


Boy ice fishing on Amber Lake

Book Your Ice Fishing Trip to Birch Trail Resort

Birch Trail Resort, located on Amber Lake near Minocqua, Wisconsin is the perfect place to set out onto the frozen lake and catch a fish. With the variety of tips above to help set you up for ice fishing success, you'll be well on your way to boasting about your catch of the day at the lodge like the rest of them.


Plus, with our amazing ice fishing package specials (package details on our website under specials), your next trip might be even more affordable than you think! When you’re ready to head up north and try out your new ice fishing skills, give us a call. We'd be happy to discuss lodging with you.

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