Fish Finder Tech

How To Ice Fish For Trout

Are you looking to take fishing to a new level? The idea of ice fishing may intrigue many anglers who are hungry for a change of pace. However, the one thing that keeps many fishing enthusiasts from hitting the ice is that they aren’t as familiar with the environment. Angling on a boat, compared to fishing on the ice, is like a whole new world.  

The good news is that ice fishing isn’t that difficult. As long as you have the correct gear, techniques, and the right lake or pond, you’ll be a pro in no time. But to make things a little easier, follow our how-to guide before you start drilling that ice hole. 

Use the Right Fishing Rod

You may be used to a longer fishing rod for standard freshwater fishing, but the rods used for ice fishing are a bit shorter. Ice fishing rods range anywhere between 24 to 36 inches with medium or medium-heavy action. However, that may depend on the species of fish that you’re looking to catch. 

Trout is easily your best bet when combing the ice for your next haul. Depending on the lake or pond and the time of year, you could find endless Rainbow Trout during the winter months. If you’re on the hunt for Rainbow Trout, stick to a medium-action rod. If this is your first foray into the ice fishing world, you should use a medium-heavy action rod, as it’s easier to handle while learning out on the ice.

Remember, a fishing rod is essentially a stick without its reel. When ice fishing for Trout, get your hands on a fishing reel with high line capacity, especially if you’re just learning. Trout are known for long runs, so it’s best you have a reel with efficient high-line capacity. Once you’ve gotten the feel of ice fishing and want to go after Brown or Rainbow Trout, the higher line capacity won’t be as important. 

Use the Right Fishing Line and Leader

When learning how to ice fish for Trout, you’ll need to determine what lines and leaders work best. We recommend using a 10 to 15-pound braided line and a 6 to an 8-pound fluorocarbon leader. Braided fishing lines have no stretch, which makes them more suitable for fishing in deeper waters. 

A 4 to 6-pound test monofilament line with an 8 to 10-pound monofilament or fluorocarbon leader will work if you plan on fishing for brown trout or rainbows. 

Ideal Trout Ice Fishing Locations

Active Trout tend to swim near large flats under the ice, especially in areas where flats are adjacent to sharp drops in deep water. Trout will come out in search of small minnows, aquatic worms, crayfish, and other sources of food. Trout generally scatter more in areas where flats gradually taper into deeper water. They also like to occupy spots where shallow to deep water is more distinct, especially in shallow-water concentration points.   

Trout also have a habit of swimming or suspending along the bottom of the ice near the shallows. If you’re looking for a bountiful catch, you may want to search for lakes with shallow flats. Trout will suspend to catch minnows and descend to the bottom to look for nematodes and other food sources. Areas with softer bottoms in predominantly rocky lakes can prove resourceful destinations for catching Trout. 

Studying nearby lakes will help during your ice fishing expedition. Since Trout tend to migrate near deep-to-shallow areas, the underwater structure may have less of an impact on where they travel. However, areas with structural diversity may house the most Trout. It’s really all about bottom-type diversity, as different bottom types have different organisms and species with more foraging options for Trout in smaller areas. 

Most migrating Trout are attracted to colder water temperatures and brighter shallows. If you use the correct bait at the right time, you could just get those trout moving into your strike zone. 

Get to the ice early and set up portable shelters over the holes you drill. Ice fishing for Trout is a game of patience. If you start drilling too late in the day, you may scare them away. Starting early is the best way to avoid scaring them off, as they tend to come out during the evening for their food.

Remember, you’re standing five or six feet above them. Any wrong move or sound can send them packing. Make sure you have your camp set up properly and all your fishing gear within arm’s reach. It won’t hurt to bring a chair to sit on to keep still and pack some snow under your feet to decrease the risk of making noise. 

You may want to consider buying a reliable fish finder unit and using the sonar to identify potential Trout. This way, you’ll ensure you picked a hot spot instead of ice fishing in a dead zone. 

Presentations and Lures

The presentations and lures you choose can play a monumental role in whether you make any catches while ice fishing for Trout. We recommend you use jigs with some type of bait on the tip. Try to find a bait that mimics dying or injured baitfish, as the movement will catch the eye of nearby Trout and provide the bite you’re looking for. 


Trout often scavenge for food at the bottom of the shore. You should ensure that your presentation or lure is close to the bottom if that’s the case. Jigging a foot from the bottom of the lake is the ideal place you want to keep your lure. Try slapping the rig off the lake floor, as it may encourage some trout to follow and bite onto your lure. 

If the Trout are suspended closer to the ice, try small spoons as lures. The small spoons can attract Trout from far distances and increase your chances of having them bite your lure. 

Small minnows are also a viable option. You can add a small lead weight or split shot to keep the minnow in the strike zone.

Using an Ice Fishing Fish Finder

We understand that fishing is like a healthy addiction. All you want to do is go out on the water or challenge yourself by fishing on the ice. No matter how much experience you have, nothing compares to the help of a fish finder. Using an ice fishing fish finder can save you the trouble of setting up shop on a patch of ice miles away from the nearest school of Trout. Contact us today if you’d like to learn about fish finders, ice fishing tips, reviews, and more.

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