Best bait for ice fishing

Best bait for ice fishing

Whether you are after perch,  pike or walleye when ice fishing, choosing the right bait is one of the essential components of a successful ice fishing trip. Knowing where the fish are and understanding their basic needs for oxygen, food and shelter is helpful in determining what bait to use. The feeding pattern of fish will determine when you get a bite and how often. Walleye are more active around sun up and sun down while Pike are active throughout the day. Some fish like perch are found closer to the lake bottom while others like crappie are closer to the surface. There may not be one “right” bait but several and the choice is yours. However, there are some types that are proven winners in ice fishing. Live maggots, minnows, shiners and spoons produce amazing results in ice fishing


Shiners are part of the Minnow family.  You can catch any species of fish through the ice with shiners including whitefish, yellow perch, largemouth and crappie. Medium shiners work well for burbot, northern pike and whitefish.  The emerald shiner, with a silvery emerald color on its sides, is believed to be no-fail bait when used for ice fishing and the one must-have for any angler.  The shiner’s ability to adapt to varying water conditions and extremes in water temperatures makes it one of the best baits for ice fishing.


For those times when you find that your shiners, minnows or artificial baits are ignored by the fish, it is time to bring out the maggots. Maggots are popular among ice fishing enthusiasts especially for perch and crappies. Maggots are specially bred for anglers and you can find them in most tackle shops. It is essential that you keep your maggots fresh before using them by keeping them dry and by avoiding overcrowding. They should also be kept someplace cold, like a refrigerator, when not in use.

Blades and Flash Lures

Many of the species you will be going after in Ice fishing respond well to flash and vibration and these are the most popular types of artificial baits in ice fishing. Your choice of bait or lure for ice fishing is often made based on factors such as vibration, flash, color, profile and size. These choices can be adjusted over time to produce increasingly better results. Over the last several decades, straight spoons like Acme Kastmaster have been used with great success; newer spoon versions like the Anglers Edge Agitator have also produced remarkable results in ice fishing.


Don’t neglect chumming if you want to gain that extra advantage over your pals on the ice.  Experiment with your own concoction of maggots and minnows and more, and let loose  your prepared chum down the ice hole. Once the bites start coming you can lay off the chum until it slows again. Ensure that there are no laws in your area against chumming.

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