Fishing is all about connecting with nature and with fellow anglers. In the winter months, ice fishing has become a popular escape for its serenity and unique advantages. The temperature drops but the quantity and quality of fish are just as plentiful as the warmer months.
With the right outerwear, and a toolbox full of fishing lures, there are five incredible ice fishing spots ready to be explored.
Antero Reservoir, Colorado
Locals flock to this Denver Water-operated reservoir on the weekends, and for good reason. This Colorado destination is packed with a variety of fish at trophy-winning sizes — from freshwater shrimp to rainbow trout, kokanee salmon. Selecting the right fishing sinkers for freshwater fish is important, especially because local regulations can vary and certain baits and lures may not be allowed.
Since the water’s transparency is opaque, the ability to feel what your bait is doing is crucial to a successful ice fishing experience. Unlike lead-based lures, they’re designed with greater density and at a smaller scale — so when you head out to the reservoir, you can be sure you have the key equipment to make the most of this ice fishing season. Tungsten manufacturers like Agescan International continue to produce environmentally friendly fishing products, which means that Tungsten metals are designed with both the angler and the environment in mind.
Fort Peck Lake, Montana
You won’t find a spot with the kind of selection that Fort Peck Lake offers its anglers. With a shoreline spanning over 1500 miles and depths that can reach 200 feet, it’s an ice fishing destination unlike any other in the United States.
This particular lake may not be for a beginner angler, it’s known for having thin spots and pressure cracks. If you have the experience to be on this man-made lake, you’ll already know to bring your tungsten fishing weights along for the trip.
In addition to packing your eco-friendly weights, you’ll want to ensure you have a quality auger for this particular body of water — manual will likely be your better option if the ice is thinner, but you’ll want to bring an automated auger if you have it in your arsenal.
Pactola Reservoir, South Dakota
In the Black Hills of South Dakota lies this hidden gem and independent angler’s dream. It only takes 100 yards on the ice to reach anywhere from 80 to 150 feet of water under your feet. Lake trout are often found circulating these waters, an easy catch once you know what equipment you need.
The quality of your lures and sinkers are important at this particular reservoir — you need pieces that have the density and sensitivity to detect action under the ice. Working with tungsten fishing sinkers will keep you on that path, ensuring a seamless experience with little to no hassle. These lures will give off a specific sound when the weight hits anything of substance.
This will help you know when you need to set your hook. An additional piece of advice here is to be unafraid to move locations if the action in your original spot begins to subside.
Caples Lake, California
California isn’t widely known for its ice fishing destinations, but Caples Lake is a rare exception. Among the snowshoers and cross-country skiers, you’ll find the body of water that avid anglers frequently flock to every winter. Rainbow and Brook trout are popular in these waters and they respond well to flashers or any bait that can catch their attention. They’ll likely gravitate towards smaller bait, which means you can put your tungsten lures to good use.
A gas-operated auger will come in handy with this location and you’ll want to invest in an extension — the ice can become up to six feet thick. If you have natural baits, bring those along with your tungsten equipment — the trout should respond positively to both options, and it allows you to switch up your bait throughout the day.
Lake Champlain, Vermont
This 120-mile long lake offers anglers some of the most diverse fishing opportunities in the winter months. You’ll find a variety of northern pike, salmon, perch, and yellow trout. This location can be quite rewarding for avid anglers. There’s even a free festival every year, hosted by The Vermont Fish and Wildlife Department, designed to introduce people of all ages to the world of ice fishing.
Whether you plan on knot-tying or drilling through the ice with an auger, as long as you know the depth of the water you’re standing on, you should have a seamless set-up.
Most of the locals get by with their jigging rods, but there are also local bait shops available to help you tailor your Lake Champlain experience.