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How to Ice Fish for Walleye: A Guide to the Best Fishing Techniques

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Fishing is one of the most popular pastimes in North America. It’s not all about the fish though! When you’re ice fishing, you don’t need a boat or any fancy equipment to get your hands on some fish

This guide will teach you all about the best ice fishing techniques and how to find fish in 5 different types of water so that you can get started today!

But first…

Basics of Walleye Ice Fishing

All you need to get started is a fish house, sharp ice fishing equipment, and of course some bait! After that, it’s just you, the hole in the lake, and your line.

But wait…ice fishing can be dangerous!

Ice fishing is not for everyone. It requires some experience so if you’ve never tried winter fishing before, we recommend trying it with a friend who knows what they are doing. An important part of ice fishing is knowing when the conditions are safe enough to go out on the ice and how to check for signs of thinning or melting. If you aren’t sure, don’t risk it! It’s better to be safe than sorry.

Now that you know the basics, let’s dive into the best ice fishing techniques for catching walleye!

Shallow Water Jigging

In shallow water, fish tend to congregate near places with currents or those where there is a change in depth.

Offshore Jigging

Fish tend to congregate more in deeper water where there is less light penetration and they can use the darkness to their advantage.

Rippin’ It

One of the most popular ice fishing techniques, ripping it consists of dragging a lure or live bait across the bottom of the water to attract fish.

Vertical Jigging/Tip-Up

Vertical jigging is a great way to catch many types of fish including walleye, pike, and bass. It consists of dropping your line straight down through the hole in the ice until it reaches the bottom, then pulling up at various speeds.

Down-Deep Fishing

When fishing down deep, it’s best to use a jig or minnow to make sure that your bait is in the strike zone for as long as possible. This technique requires you to fish near the bottom of the water and keep moving until you find where fish are congregating.

Once you have chosen your favorite ice fishing technique, it’s time to go out and catch some fish! Be sure not to spend too much time on the same spot. Mix up your techniques or even try different types of water to maximize your chances!

Catch Walleye Tips and Tricks

Here’s some of our guide on how to ice fish for walleye! Try out these tips or tricks on winter fishing, the next you go fishing!

  • Walleye generally prefer water that is cool and clear, so try to target these areas of the lake.
  • Early morning and early evening are when walleye will be most active because they know that’s when they have the best chance of catching their prey.
  • Try to fish in current breaks or near drop-offs on the edge of a shallow area. These spots are where walleye like to hunt!
  • If your line goes into a knot or gets stuck on an underwater obstacle, cut the line and tie a new knot. This is less time-consuming than trying to fix it in freezing cold temperatures!

Winter Walleye Season

Fishing on ice isn’t easy but at least there are plenty of things you can do out on the lake. Just because you don’t have anything to sink your line into doesn’t mean there aren’t any fish around.

Rivers are constantly in motion, which makes them great for fish. They are excellent spots to go ice fishing since the fish will follow both the currents and their food. These waterways also offer up a variety of fish depending on the time of year. For instance, spring is when you’ll have most luck catching walleye or whitefish while salmon fishing might be more successful during fall months.

These are the place where you can go ice fishing for walleye:


These types of rivers are estuaries where freshwater from streams mixes with salty seawater creating brackish water which can have varying degrees of salinity throughout the day.

Because there is so much movement in this kind of river it’s an excellent place to go ice fishing.

Large Lakes

The mouth of a large lake with an open connection to the ocean or sea is known as a bay. Ice fishing by bays provides good results since they are open to the sun, which keeps them ice-free during the winter months.

Shallow Water

Ice anglers have the opportunity to fish shallow areas of rivers for walleye, sauger salmon, or whitefish. The best thing about fishing these spots is that you don’t need expensive equipment because there are plenty of places where you can dig down into the river bed to get to deeper water.

The only time walleye migrate to eat is when they are in their winter posture near spawning locations. Don’t be concerned about migratory patterns; the process will be completed by the time you get on the ice.

In reality, try locating walleye beneath hard water is a matter of detecting their vertical movement patterns as they seek food during peak feeding periods.

How to Locate a Walleye Under the Ice

These are the steps to follow when you want to locate walleye under the ice:

1.) Find out where your target species are found.

The best place to set up your fishing site will be where you expect the most activity. At this point, it’s time to drill your holes and make sure they are in line with one another since this way you’ll know the exact position of the target species beneath the surface.

Now mount your tip-ups and baits about 1 foot (30 cm) above the bottom as a rule of thumb. Finally, attach your lines so that they hang perpendicularly from each other. This way you can detect any underwater movements by both rods.

2.) Make sure that the weather conditions allow you to get on the ice.

If the conditions aren’t right, you should postpone your ice-fishing trip. The best way to do this is to check the weather forecast and only go fishing if there’s a high percentage of sunshine.

To prepare for winter angling, just put on as much clothing as you can manage so that your body is protected against the cold and any physical activity it might take. You’ll also want to keep hydrated since dehydration has the potential to sap your strength at an alarming rate even in conditions where temperatures are moderate. It’s essential not to forget gloves and boots too!

3.) Pick a suitable spot for fishing.

The ideal spot for going ice fishing will have a high concentration of fish.

Put on your snowsuit and attach the hooks to the tip-ups so they are ready for when you locate fish. Make sure that you have all of your tools since this way there won’t be any chance of losing them when it comes time to leave. Now, put everything in a backpack.

In preparation for catching fish, you should pick up a rod and start drilling holes in the ice. Once they’re drilled, you’ll want to fasten a line using a swivel 30 centimeters (12 in.) above your hook then add some bait to it before putting it through the hole and finally attaching a float 2 feet (60 cm) above the hook.

This way, you’ll be able to detect any bites because the float will move in a different direction than when fish swim in zigzag patterns.

4.) Prepare your equipment and put on appropriate clothing for spending time in winter conditions.

Prepare the best-fit fishing gears that you think the temperature is appropriate for. Put on winter clothing that will help you to stay warm in extreme weather conditions, such as gloves, boots, and a hat.

Fasten the tip-ups 30 cm above the bottom with attaching lines perpendicularly at every tip-up so that to detect any underwater movements easily.

5.) Drill a hole in the ice to fish through this opening.

Drill multiple holes under ice bait until about 1 foot (30 cm) deep before fastening the line through it and finally attach a float 2 feet (60 cm) above the hook so if fish grabbed your bait they can’t swim away because float represents where you are fishing to detect any bites easily.

6.) Put bait into place and drop down your line once it’s ready, making sure that the hook is securely fastened to it.

Walleye lures are usually made from rubber or plastic.

Some people use small jig heads, but the best way to ice fishing for walleye is with a lure as this attracts them much more quickly than natural bait. In order to entice these fish successfully, you have to know their special characteristics. Walleyes are particularly fond of soft and scented prey, so lures that mimic these are the best option.

As a rule of thumb, try to choose the smallest size of lure possible since this will entice walleye more easily. You can find them at any sports store or online shop. In order to prepare your equipment, you should attach it to your fishing line if necessary.

7.) Re-adjust when necessary.

You should re-adjust your tip-ups, change the direction of your lines when necessary.

Once you’re confident that all of the equipment is in place, you can head away from your fishing spot. Before leaving, check that everything is ready for when you get back. Don’t forget to take snacks and water with you since having access to either of these things could make a massive difference if something goes wrong.

8.) Check when you need to add or replace bait when the line is under the ice.

You should always check if you need to add or replace baits such as live minnow head and jig heads to an effective depth before you ice fishing for walleye.

Be safe and maintain a safe distance especially from any holes on the ice as there could be a thin or even invisible layer of ice as this would be dangerous as well as fatal if you fall into the water since hypothermia will take over your body quickly and eventually lead to death.

9.) Carefully fill in the hole you’ve made to make sure no animal can go through it and interfere with the fishing spot.

It’s best to fill in all of the holes you’ve drilled so that no animal can go through them and interfere with the fishing spot. Once it’s done, you can head home!

Catching as much fish as possible since there is no limit on catching fish except for the size of fish that you seize only and then cut off their heads and remove their guts before cooking or freezing them. You may reuse your live bait if they’re still alive and if not, replace them with new ones.

What is a Walleye Angler Guide?

Walleye angler guides provide a detailed account of proper equipment, safety precautions, and techniques for a successful day of walleye ice fishing.

Ice fishing is a winter sport where anglers cut holes in the ice on a body of water and fish through these openings with rods, reels, and bait such as live minnow head or jighead/lure. The goal is to catch as many fish as possible before it’s time for you to head back home.

Many anglers use tip-ups which are devices that alert them when a fish has grabbed the bait and is trying to swim away. Walleye lures such as soft and scented rubber or plastic replicas are used for attracting walleye to land these fish successfully.

When it comes to ice fishing, many anglers prefer using lures due to their soft and scented rubber or plastic replicas which are the best choice for attracting walleye successfully. For these fish, it’s important to use the smallest size of lure possible that is effective since they tend to be attracted more to smaller ones especially if they imitate live bait like minnows.

Hungry Walleye can’t resist lures such as minnow head with small worms on them.

Are Walleye are Aggressive Fish?

Walleye are aggressive predators that hunt using sight. They prefer prey with high nutritional value such as shiners, small suckers, or minnows. Walleye can be found in clear-water lakes and reservoirs with clean gravel bottoms.

Once you’re confident that all of your equipment is in place, you can head away from your fishing spot. Before leaving, check that everything is ready for when you get back just in case something goes wrong while you’re not there.

You can also use walleye’s teeth to determine the length of time since walleye have no scales which is a unique feature that walleye possess. Walleyes have the unique feature of having no scales and their teeth are used by anglers to determine how long they’ve been dead.

The light from the sun reflects more on dense objects while it doesn’t reflect much on less dense ones which make walleye color change depending on depth, clear or murky waters where they live, or even predators around them.

How to Fish in Spawning Grounds?

Spawning grounds are one of the best times to catch a walleye since they’re in a feeding frenzy. By doing this, you can make sure that no other anglers will find out your secret spots where you regularly fish at.

Before going ice fishing, it’s a good idea to consider how much time you can spend on ice fishing especially if it involves bringing kids with you and making sure all of them have the right gear for ice fishing such as proper winter clothing including several layers underneath their coats just in case something goes wrong during your trip.

Be safe while traveling on ice since there is always a chance that the ice won’t hold under your weight. You should also learn different techniques on how to get back off the water safely in case anything goes wrong.

What’s the Best Time of Day for Ice Fishing?

Ice fishing is best during the early morning, late evening, and overcast days since walleye become more active at these times. On windy days, you’ll see less activity which means that your first option should be to find a sheltered spot on the ice or change locations altogether where there is less wind.

You can bring your family with you when ice fishing especially your kids. Find the safest spots that are free of objects, holes, and cracks in the ice since these places will help prevent anything bad from happening to them.

Be careful when choosing a spot to set up camp since it’s important to make sure that everyone is safe while playing on or around the ice.

If done properly, there is nothing wrong with bringing your kids along when ice fishing since they’ll enjoy spending time outdoors which is what this sport is all about.

Final Thoughts on How to Ice Fish for Walleye

There are many ice fishing for walleyes recommendations, and every fisherman has specific views about it.

However, not all ideas and advices can be implemented and followed everywhere and they will not function the same on all waterways.

Ice fishing for walleye tips mentioned here may be applied in any water with only slight changes on the spot. Get to know the local waterways and attempt to alter your approach by utilizing techniques mentioned below. You will be amazed how a good lure or a bait presentation may alter the result.

Ice fishing for walleye is a great way to spend your weekend since you’ll get the chance to relax, bond with friends and family, and enjoy a nice meal afterward. Now that you’ve read our guide, you’re ready to go out there and try ice fishing for yourself!