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Ice Bass Fishing Tips

Updated on June 3, 2013

Catching Bass while Ice Fishing

Fishing for bass under the ice with rod and reel.
Fishing for bass under the ice with rod and reel. | Source

Fishing for Bass Through Ice

Fishing for large mouth and small mouth bass is a fun cold weather winter activity. There are a few tips that you can try the next time you're at the lake to catch these hard fighting freshwater fish. Ice fishing is enjoyed in the winter at lakes throughout the northern most states of the US and Canada, with the target species often being perch and bluegill, however many anglers often catch pike,crappie, trout, and the more sport worthy bass. With the growing popularity of bass fishing spurred on by competitive bass fishing tournaments more and more anglers have been trying to focus on targeting these species during iced out conditions. While traditionally bass are caught on lures such as spinnerbaits, crankbaits, large jigs, and other lures that require casting to targets, popular lures such as a plastic worm or grub can excel under the ice to entice these fish to eat. But the most popular lures are spoons and the most popular baits tend to be either live minnows or wax worms.

Catching Bass and other Fish in the Ice

Angling on the Ice

A women fishes in a hole on the ice in a special chair.
A women fishes in a hole on the ice in a special chair. | Source

Bass Fishing the Ice

Have you ever caught a bass ice fishing?

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Rods on the Ice

Several ice fishing rods set up on the ice.
Several ice fishing rods set up on the ice. | Source

List of Tips to Catch More!

Ice fishing is much different than regular fishing due to the fixed nature of fishing a single hole and the cold water temperatures require specific techniques in order to be successful in catching many fish. Whether you are using a rod in hand fishing a single hole or using tip ups with flags and fishing a few to dozens of holes at the same time, you can give these tips a try the next time you are on the lake.

  1. Use live bait even when using a lure such as a spoon or jig.
  2. Try Berkeley Gulp baits such as the live minnow and wax worms both are great options for a plastic lure, especially if you want to tip a spoon or jig with a bait, using a gulp can be deadly.
  3. Have a topographic map of the lake that you are fishing and target deep water ledges where a fish may move up to eat. Underwater humps are also excellent locations to prospect and drill holes in the ice to see if you can locate a school of fish.
  4. Get a pair of thick wool socks that are designed for extreme cold. Of course, you will need a jacket and preferably snow pants / bib. A good pair of socks and water proof boots will make sure your feet are warm allowing you to fish longer.
  5. Dropshot a minnow. While dropshotting a plastic worm or gulp minnow can be very effective, use a dropshot with a 1 - 5 foot leader and attach a small live minnow and allow it to do its thing under water attracting a hungry fish.
  6. When holding the rod in your hand don't jig just straight up and down. Make sure to move from side to side and front to back in the hole to vary the swimming direction of the lure / bait..
  7. Get to the bottom and touch the bottom occasionally. While fish may often eat when the lure is on the fall or when suspended off the bottom, touching the rocks and kicking up debris on the bottom can inspire a lazy cold winter fish to check out your offering.
  8. Toss a few free baits into the hole to excite the fish into eating. A chum of a few small wax worms or minnows can attract feeding fish to your fishing area.
  9. Adjust your line size. Some lures require using a heavier line such as 6lbs test, however slimming down to a size 4 or 2lbs test can be excellent. I suggest to use braided line for the mainline, when going so small with the line size braid tends to be better than mono filament.
  10. Change baits, lures, and colors before abandoning a spot to drill a new hole in a new location. When you do move make sure that you are making a lake structure move, i.e. if you are fishing on a deep ledge, move to a creek channel bend, or an underwater hump, or an area that you know has heavy brush piles to try and better locate where the fish are located at that particular day.

Ice Fishing for Bass with Tip Ups


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    • Ann1Az2 profile image

      Ann1Az2 5 years ago from Orange, Texas

      Sounds like fun. I noticed the pole is a little different - smaller and bends almost from the reel. That would make sense because you're right over a small hole in the ice - a straight pole wouldn't work because you'd have to be too far away from the hole, not to mention, a caste wouldn't work. I can imagine it takes some skill to ice-fish.

      Interesting and voted up.

    • Maddie Ruud profile image

      Maddie Ruud 5 years ago from Oakland, CA

      Now this is a kind of fishing I think I'd enjoy! I thrive in cold weather, and sitting still on the ice sounds a whole lot better than tossing up and down on a boat to me. ;)

    • freecampingaussie profile image

      freecampingaussie 5 years ago from Southern Spain

      Very informative and interesting - I am in 42 deg heat & need a swim to cool down but still loved your photos as we want to travel to Canada !

      Found you hub hopping !