Winter in Minnesota means putting up our boats for the season, but if you love fishing, changing your game up a little can yield some good catches and a whole lot of fun. All you need is some excellent company, ice fishing gear, and tasty snacks to serve up a great time. 

In this post from Canvasworks in Cokato, Minnesota, we’re sharing our newcomer’s guide to ice fishing to help you make the most of your time on the ice this winter. To learn more about our fish house repair services and get started on your ice fishing adventures, call us today!

Minnesota Ice Fishing

The holiday season might be over soon, but for ice-fishing lovers, the time to celebrate is just beginning. Ice houses start to pop up across Minnesota’s lakes between January and February in Minnesota, transforming the landscape into a magical winter sight. 

If you’re looking for a way to get outdoors and spend time with your family, ice fishing is a great excuse to unplug from social media and the hustle and bustle of everyday life. Although ice fishing might initially seem intimidating, once you get started, you’ll realize it’s easy enough that anyone can do it!

To get started, you’ll just need a fishing license and a few essentials to bring with you:

  • A chair or even a 5-gallon bucket for sitting on while you fish

  • Warm, comfortable clothing

  • A hand-operated auger

  • A fishing pole and lure

  • Assorted tackle

  • An ice fishing shelter (optional)

  • Bait bucket

  • Slush scoop

  • Needle-nose pliers

  • Safety picks

  • Hand and foot warmers

  • A life jacket or floatation device for emergencies

  • Metal-spiked cleats

Where to Go Ice Fishing

If you want to go ice fishing in style, consider renting an ice house where you can ice fish with most of the creature comforts of home. Some ice cabins even come equipped with TVs, bunks, and carpets and have holes already in the floor so that you can ice fish in comfort and style! The best part? They even come with heaters!

These are just a handful of the popular lakes where you’ll find excellent ice fishing spots in Minnesota:

  • Lake of the Woods

  • Lake Mille Lacs

  • Lake Winnibigoshish

  • Upper Red Lake

  • Lake Minnetonka

What You’ll Catch Below Minnesota Ice

The first thing to know about ice fishing catches is that getting a bite usually takes a while. That’s because fish tend to slow down during the bitter winter cold. But when you do get a catch, it will be worth the effort. 

Here are a few great catches you might end up going home with:

  • Walleye: One of the most delicious catches is the walleye. Measuring up to 30 inches, these large fish can make quite the feast! If you’re lucky enough to score one of these big guys, try out this recipe for pan-fried walleye (and don’t forget to bring some to our team over at Canvasworks!).

  • Northern Pike: Catching a Northern Pike can be quite a thrill during ice fishing season. This large predator is considered a trophy fish and follows bait schools during winter. Use large bait and tip-ups to catch these formidable fish.

  • Yellow Perch: A slightly smaller fish, perch can be caught using smaller lures and live bait. Find them throughout Minnesota’s rivers and lakes.

  • Bluegill: Bluegill is Minnesota’s largest sunfish and can be found all over Minnesota. Catch these fish using euro larvae, waxworms, or micro jigs during ice fishing season.

Going Ice Fishing

After registering for your fishing license, choosing a spot, and packing your gear, it’s time to go ice fishing! Ensure you understand the fishing regulations where you’ll be ice fishing since they can vary from location to location. 

Find out what types of fish you can expect to catch at your ice fishing spot, as well as what the catch limit is for each species, and print a guide to take with you. Plan your bait accordingly. 

You should also brush up on ice fishing safety, double-check local ice thickness reports, and pack emergency supplies before you go. 

Ice Fishing Quick Tips

Here are a few helpful tips to ensure you catch something delicious, have fun, and stay safe: 

  • Choose a location with at least five inches of ice, preferably near other ice anglers, so you know it’s a safe spot to fish.

  • Once at your spot, carefully position your auger blades, applying pressure while you drill. Afterward, scoop out the slush with an ice scoop.

  • Bait your ice jig using two or three spikes, then jig it a foot or so off the bottom. Remember that bites are lighter during ice fishing season because fish are less active.

  • Experts recommend using wax worms or live minnows while you’re learning to ice fish and working your way up to more challenging lures.

Once you reel in your first catch, gently remove the hook. And don’t forget to snap a photo!

Minnesota Canvas Icehouse Repair Services & Much More

One way to make the most of ice fishing season is to use your snowmobile to transport your gear around on the ice. To keep your sled in excellent condition for plenty of ice fishing fun, order a custom SnoCaps Trailer Enclosure from Canvasworks! 

We also offer canvas repair services for boat covers, canopies, awnings, and more, so if your ice fishing house needs maintenance after the season ends, let us help! Stop by our online gallery and then give us a call at 320-559-0165 or contact us online to learn more.