Five Fishing Tips for Bass Ice Fishing

There are those fishermen who put away all their gear once the first frost hits the ground. They do not enjoy fishing in the wintertime or do not understand that the fishing this time of year can be productive. They prefer to do their fishing when the weather is better and when there is not so much work involved. This is great news for those who do like to fish at this time of year because there is not much competition for the good areas on the lake like there is on sunny and warm summer mornings. You do need to change up the way you fish because the techniques are much different when bass fishing in the winter than fishing in the summer. The following are five fishing tips for bass ice fishing:

1. Hole Size – Many anglers stick to the same size hole each time that they go out on the ice. These holes are typically only large enough to drop your line down and then reel in the fish. You cannot really see what is happening beneath the ice. If you want to be able to see the fish and your line and bait, you can cut a hole that is meant for spear fishing instead of the smaller hole for line fishing. This does not affect the integrity of the ice but allows you to have a better view of the action below you. The fishermen who use these larger holes say that they can actually watch the bass take their bait and know the exact moment they should reel in.

2. Types of Bait – The bait to use when fishing for bass in the cold winter months and when the ice is covering the lake is food that would be natural to them. Live baits work best and offer the best chance at catching the limit. Live minnows and worms make great baits during the winter months and offer the bass a chance at a meal that they really need. You can use worms in a pinch but you may end up reeling in more crappie and bluegills than bass. You can also use maggots and chubs in the winter months with great success.

3. Types of Lures – You need to use the type of lures that mimic the action of the bait fish and natural foods that the bass enjoy. Many of the crankbaits that resemble minnows are a great choice as well as some spoons that are loaded with live bait. You may need to try a few different types of lures to find the one that the fish are biting on but the patience is worth it when the bass start attacking your lure each time you throw it out. Some anglers even use walleye rigs and other set ups with great success in the winter. If you are in doubt, you can always ask at the local bait shop to find out what is hot on the lake you are fishing from.

4. Where to Find the Bass – The bass can be found in many of the same areas that they can be found in the summer months. If you cut your hole and find that you are only catching crappie and bluegill, stay in the area. The bass feed on the young of these species and are probably lurking in the same location. You may need to switch up your bait to one that is more attractive to the bass. For instance, if you are using worms, choose live minnows or a lure that looks like minnows to entice the bass. Also, you can use larger baits that may intimidate the smaller crappie and bluegill and further entice the bigger bass.

5. Attractant – There are many attractants on the market that can be used to scent an area for bass. Put the attractant on a rag and use a weight to sink it deeply in the water. Make sure the rag is biodegradable so you can leave it in the water through the entire season. This allows you to fish the same hole without having to scent it again. There are those purists who do not think this is a great way to fish the ice but there are others who use whatever tools they have to catch their limit each and every time they go out.

Ice fishing for bass can be a great way to get away from it all in the cold winter months when there is not much to do. It can also help to feed the family when money may be a bit tighter because of the cost of heating. If you follow the tips that have been presented here then you can have great days fishing and you can catch your limit nearly every time you go out.


Dan Eggertsen is a fellow bass fishing enthusiast to the point of obsession. :) He's been providing solid advice on bass fishing since 2004.

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