Just because the lakes are frozen doesn’t mean anglers have to sit indoors and wait for spring to bring back good fishing. Anglers who drop lines through the ice often catch their limit of white and yellow perch, bass, trout, panfish and crappie. With the right equipment and proper techniques, any angler can turn winter into a highly productive season.

Ice fishermen can improve their chances of hooking fish by using light tackle.

“Small baits tend to work best, especially when worked slowly,” said Gary Roach, a member of the Eagle Electronics pro fishing team. “Fish are less aggressive in winter, so rods must be sensitive enough to allow anglers to feel small bites. Ultralight rods, or small rods made specifically for ice fishing, provide the sensitivity needed to set the hook at just the right moment.”

One spot on a frozen lake may look as good as any other, but smart ice anglers only drill holes where fish are likely to concentrate. Finding the right depth, or setting up over fish-holding structures such as sharp drop-offs, submerged trees and other natural structure will improve the fishing dramatically. Tackle stores usually sell topographic maps of local lakes, and some maps even highlight key bottom structures.

“Maps give anglers a good overall picture of a lake,” Roach said. “But to pinpoint a spot with exactly the right depth, or one that’s directly over structure, use an electronic fish-finder. They improve fishing on the ice, just like they do on boats, by using sonar to determine water depth and locate submerged objects.”

Ice fishermen pursuing perch or crappie can increase their success by attaching propeller spinners to their line about three inches above the hook or lure. These flashy accessories attract the attention of fish and lead them to the bait.

Everyone knows angling inside an ice-fishing shack will keep a person warm, but not everyone is aware it can actually improve the fishing.

“Fish can look up through a hole in the ice and see anglers move about,” Roach said. “An ice fisherman can avoid this by fishing from the darkness of an ice-fishing shack, or by fishing under a blanket or tarp thrown over the hole, tent style.”

So find some light tackle, use good electronics and present lures correctly, and this winter may turn out to be the most enjoyable fishing season yet.

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