How to Catch Lake Trout Ice Fishing?

Are you ready to embark on an exciting ice-fishing adventure pursuing lake trout? Ice fishing for lake trout is a thrilling and rewarding experience that requires careful planning, the right equipment, and a solid understanding of the techniques involved.

In this article, we will provide a step-by-step guide on How to Catch Lake Trout Ice Fishing From choosing the right location to using the right bait, we’ve got you covered. So, grab your gear, bundle up, and let’s get started!

The Thrill of Ice Fishing for Lake Trout

Ice fishing for lake trout offers a unique and exhilarating experience. Picture yourself standing on a frozen lake, surrounded by serene winter scenery, waiting when a lake trout strikes your line.

The anticipation and excitement make ice fishing a popular winter activity among anglers. Whether you’re a seasoned angler or a beginner, this guide will help you maximize your chances of catching lake trout while ice fishing.

Understanding Lake Trout Behavior

Before venturing out onto the ice, it’s crucial to understand lake trout behaviour. Lake trout are cold-water fish known for their preference for deeper waters.

They often inhabit large, deep lakes and stay close to the bottom. Knowing their habits and preferred habitats will significantly increase your chances of success.

Choosing the Right Location

Selecting the right location is critical to a successful ice fishing trip. Look for lakes with a reputation for hosting lake trout populations.

Research local fishing reports, consult with experienced ice anglers, or seek guidance from local bait and tackle shops. Additionally, consider factors such as water depth, structure, and the presence of food sources.

best time to catch lake trout ice fishing

The best time to catch lake trout ice fishing depends on a few factors, including:

Time of year

  • Early ice (November-December): Lake trout can be very active near the surface as they transition from deep water feeding grounds to shallower pre-spawn areas. Low-pressure systems with overcast skies and snow can be particularly good.
  • Mid-ice (January-February): Activity can slow down as they move to deeper spawning grounds. However, experienced anglers can find success using electronics to target specific depths and offering larger baits.
  • Late ice (March-April): As ice begins to melt and water warms slightly, lake trout may move back to shallower areas to feed. Look for sunny days with warmer temperatures.

Time of day

  • Early morning (dawn): Often the most productive time, as lake trout are coming out of their overnight slumber and looking for food.
  • Late afternoon (dusk): Another good period as they prepare for another night of activity.
  • Throughout the day: Don’t rule out daytime, especially if it’s cloudy or the weather is changing. Use electronics to find active fish at different depths.

Essential Ice Fishing Equipment

You’ll need the appropriate equipment to catch lake trout through the ice. Here’s a list of essential gear:

  • Ice fishing rod and reel
  • Ice auger or ice drill
  • Ice fishing line
  • Ice fishing tip-ups or jigging rods
  • Depth finder or fish finder
  • Ice fishing tackle (hooks, swivels, sinkers)
  • Ice scoop or skimmer
  • Ice fishing shelter or portable ice hut
  • Warm clothing and accessories (insulated boots, gloves, hat)

Setting Up Your Ice Fishing Shelter

Creating a comfortable ice fishing shelter is crucial for your overall experience. Whether you choose a portable ice hut or a simple pop-up shelter, ensure it provides insulation from the cold and protects you from the elements. Set it up strategically, allowing easy access to your fishing holes.

Drilling Holes and Setting Up Tip-Ups

Carefully drill holes in the ice at predetermined locations using an ice auger or drill. It’s recommended to start with a few spots and expand as necessary.

Set up tip-ups or jigging rods over the holes, ensuring they are correctly adjusted to the desired depth. This setup will allow you to cover a larger area and increase your chances of attracting lake trout.

Lake Trout Bait Selection

Selecting the right bait is crucial for enticing lake trout to bite. Lake trout, including smaller fish, insects, and crustaceans, feed on prey.

Popular bait choices include smelt, shiners, minnows, and artificial lures that mimic their natural prey. Experiment with different bait options to see what works best in your chosen location.

Techniques for Ice Fishing Lake Trout

There are several effective techniques for ice-fishing lake trout:

  • Jigging: Use a jigging rod to create vertical movement in your bait, mimicking the natural motion of prey. Vary your jigging speed and depth to attract lake trout.
  • Deadsticking: Set up a tip-up with live bait and allow it to sit motionless. Lake trout are known to investigate and strike at stationary targets.
  • Trolling: If permitted, use a hand drill or a piece of ice saw to create a hole large enough to fish with a traditional open-water rod and reel. Attach a baited lure and slowly move it through the water to entice lake trout.

Ice Fishing Safety Tips

Ice fishing safety should always be a top priority. Here are some essential safety tips to keep in mind:

  • Check ice thickness regularly using an ice chisel or auger.
  • Never venture onto ice that is less than 4 inches thick.
  • Wear a personal flotation device (PFD) or a floatation suit.
  • Icefish with a buddy and inform others about your plans.
  • Carry ice picks or claws to aid in self-rescue in an emergency.

Staying Warm and Comfortable on the Ice

To fully enjoy your ice fishing adventure, staying warm and comfortable is crucial. Dress in layers to trap heat effectively, and remember to wear insulated boots, gloves, and a hat.

Pack hot beverages, snacks, and hand warmers to keep yourself fueled and comfortable throughout the day.

Catch and Release Best Practices

Practising catch and release helps conserve the lake trout population and ensures sustainable fishing for future generations.

When handling lake trout, wet your hands to minimize damage to their protective slime coating. Use barbless hooks for easier hook removal and reduce stress on the fish. Take quick photos and release the fish promptly and gently.

Troubleshooting Common Challenges

Ice fishing for lake trout can come with its fair share of challenges. Some common issues include inactive fish, changing weather conditions, and difficulty locating fish.

Stay patient, adapt your techniques as needed, and be bold and seek advice from experienced ice anglers or local fishing experts.


Ice fishing for lake trout is an exhilarating winter activity that can provide memorable experiences and a tasty reward. You can increase your chances of success by understanding How to Catch Lake Trout Ice Fishing, selecting the right location, using the appropriate equipment, and employing effective techniques. Remember to prioritize safety, practice catch and release, and enjoy the serenity of nature while ice fishing for lake trout.


What is the best lure for lake trout ice fishing?

  • The best lure for lake trout ice fishing is often a jigging spoon or a jigging minnow, such as a Swedish Pimple, Kastmaster, or Hopkins Shorty. These lures are known for their enticing movements and ability to mimic the natural prey of lake trout, making them highly effective for attracting bites.

What are the best times to ice fish for lake trout?

  • The best times to ice fish for lake trout are typically during the early morning or late afternoon when these fish are most active. Additionally, the hours around sunrise and sunset can be particularly productive. Lake trout tend to be more involved in colder temperatures, so fishing during the winter months or in colder climates can yield better results.

What ice fishing rod for lake trout?

  • When targeting lake trout through ice fishing, it is advisable to use a medium to medium-heavy ice fishing rod with a sensitive tip. A 28 to 36-inch rod with a fast or extra-fast action is suitable for handling the larger size and fighting strength of lake trout. Additionally, a rod with enough backbone to take heavier lures and to manage the aggressive nature of lake trout is recommended for a successful fishing experience.

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