The Best US Ice Fishing Locations

Winter is here, and lakes across the U.S. are freezing over. So, that must mean the fishing season is done, right?

Nope! For ice-loving anglers, the season has just begun. 

Picture this: You’re keeping warm in a hut out in the middle of a frozen lake. You’re surrounded by your closest fisher friends and an arsenal of bait, rods, and supplies. There’s a hole drilled in the middle of the floor, and your rod is moving. A fish is biting. You’re ready to bask in the glory of ice fishing.

Now you need to answer the question: Where should you go fishing?

We’ve chosen these ice fishing spots because they’re the best of the best, specifically in the winter. Don’t get us wrong: They’re great in the summer, too, but something about ice fishing just hits differently. 

Whether it’s due to their flourishing fish population or the excellent amenities nearby, if you set up camp at one of these locations, you’ll make your fisher friends ice-blue with envy. 

When you’re planning your next winter fishing trip, be sure to stop by these amazing destinations: 

Devils Lake, North Dakota

If you’ve been in the fishing game for a while, you’ve probably heard about North Dakota; it’s earned a reputation for being the “Perch Capital of the World”! When you visit Devils Lake, you’ll be fishing from a plentiful supply. 

What makes it such a great place to fish? Along with Perch, you’ll also find plenty of Walleye, Crappie, White Bass, and Northern Pike. As the largest body of water in North Dakota, Devils Lake spans over one mile long, meaning there’s no shortage of spots to go fishing. 

When you’re here, check out some of the best fishing spots on the lake, including Rocky Point, Cactus Point, and Minnewaukan Flats. 

Since it’s one of the most popular ice fishing spots, there are plenty of amenities nearby. If you run out of bait or you want to buy a map, check out one of the shops nearby.  

Every year, there’s an annual ice fishing tournament, so if you’re a competitive angler, be sure to stop by!

Lake of the Woods, Minnesota

If you want to get technical, this isn’t an entirely U.S. fishing spot—part of it stretches into Canada. Still, it’s the second-largest freshwater lake in all of the U.S.!

The fish population here is very diverse; it includes Whitefish, Perch, Lake Trout, and Walleye. 

If you’re planning a longer stay, you’ll find plenty of places to rest your head nearby. Since it’s such a popular fishing spot, there are plenty of hotels and resorts you can stay in.

Looking for the perfect spot to set up on the Lake of the Woods? Since the shoreline spans more than 65,000 miles, you can take your pick!

Wait until the middle of December to come fishing here; that’s when the ice is thick enough to kick off the ice fishing season.

Lake Michigan, Michigan

Lake Michigan is not only one of the five Great Lakes—it’s also a great place to go ice fishing! With the wide open water and blowing winds, you’ll need a shelter to stay warm. Make sure you bring your own, or look for a rental nearby. 

People from all over the U.S. come to Michigan in the winter to fish on this massive lake. It has a lively ice fishing scene all season long, and for good reason. 

You can find delicious and highly sought-after Salmon below these icy waters, along with Rainbow Trout, Lake Trout, and Walleye. You can fish closer to the shore, or head out to the deeper parts of the lake for a different variety of fish. 

Lake Habeeb, Maryland

It’s not the biggest lake on our list, but it is one of the best ice fishing lakes. 

If you want to stay the night, the nearest accommodations are only a 10-minute drive away (that’s one of the advantages of fishing on a smaller lake). There’s also a great selection of fishing supplies shops nearby, so you don’t have to worry about running out of bait. 

One of the best things about ice fishing on Lake Habeeb is the gorgeous scenery. In the summer, the water is incredibly blue, and you can still see its magnificent color when it freezes over. Look around you, and you’ll see the remarkable Rocky Gap State Park.

What kinds of fish species can you find here? This lake is known for its heavy fish—Bass and Sunfish and you can catch ones up to ten pounds, so if you’re setting up here, come prepared to catch larger fish. 

Lake Winnebago, Wisconsin

We’ve got another record-setter on the list here: Lake Winnebago is the biggest one in Wisconsin. It’s not as big as Devils Lake, but it’s pretty close.

This freshwater lake offers a great variety of fish, including Perch and Walleye. It boasts a self-sustaining Lake Sturgeon population (the largest in the world!), along with plenty of other species, including Sunfish, Bluegill, Smallmouth Bass, and Channel Catfish. 

The season kicks off here in January. Given the size of this lake, it’s a popular site for other winter activities, including ice bowling and broomball. 

Want to put your fishing skills to the test? Then you should take part in Lake Winnebago Sturgeon Spearing, a popular activity in the area! You can try it from the middle of February to the end of the month. 

Boysen Reservoir, Wyoming

Is there anything better than ice fishing when you’re surrounded by mountains? When you visit the Boysen Reservoir, take in the sights of the Owl Creek Mountains. 

The winter season arrives here in December, and the north side of the lake freezes first. So if you’re eager to get out on that ice, pick a fishing location near the northern end!

And once you’re satisfied with all you’ve caught, head on down to the snowmobile trails nearby, or try your hand (foot?) at snowshoeing. 

As far as the kinds of fish you can catch here, it’s a mixed bag. The most popular species are Mountain Whitefish, Largemouth Bass, and Brook Trout. The Walleye population has dropped off in recent years, but it’s starting to make a rebound.

Quartz and Birch Lakes, Alaska

These two ice fishing lakes are the hidden gems on our list. If you ever find yourself out in Alaska, be sure to stop by Quartz and Birch Lakes. They’re packed with fish! Every year, ice huts are put out on the frozen lake to assist fishers—usually toward the end of January. 

Quartz Lake is where you can catch some really amazing fish. If you’re lucky, you can catch the elusive and beautiful Rainbow Trout—big ones, too! There’s also an assortment of Chinook Salmon and Arctic Char.

Not far off from there is Birch Lake, another awesome spot for ice fishing. Many of the fishing spots on the lake are privately owned; you may need to register your hut with a permit. But even though it’s a bit of extra paperwork, it’s definitely worthwhile; you can catch an astounding number of fish here. The high catch rates will keep everyone in your group entertained for a long day of fishing.  

Castle Lake, California

They don’t call it the Golden State for nothing; California is known for its sandy beaches, the beautiful Lake Tahoe, and its abundant sunshine.

But it’s also an excellent ice fishing destination! Stop by in the winter and head on up to Castle Lake, which is populated with plenty of Trout species, including Brook.

Keep in mind that you can only take home 5 fish a day to maintain healthy populations. It won’t make for the longest ice fishing experience, but it will certainly be a memorable one. 

You’ll find Castle Lake nestled in the Shasta-Trinity National Forest. It feels private, but it’s accessible to the public. The ice fishing season spans from January-March.

Copper Harbor, Michigan

Visit Copper Harbor, and you’ll have dozens of lakes to choose from, from Lake Superior to the Keweenaw Peninsula. In Michigan, the ice starts to freeze in the smaller lakes by the middle of December; if you want to venture to the bigger lakes, wait until the middle of January. 

This area features an interesting mix of fish, including Northern Pike, Coho Salmon, Herring, and Smelt. 

And after you’ve had your fill of fishing, head on up to Mt. Bohemia for some skiing! 

Antero Reservoir, Colorado

You’ve made it to the last on our list of best ice fishing locations. This is one you don’t want to miss out on. Fishing here is like nowhere else in the world. At the Antero Reserve, you’ll take in views of the magnificent Rocky Mountains. It’s a busy place to go during the ice fishing season thanks to its natural splendor and abundant fish population. 

The water holds a unique mix of species, from Greenback Cutthroat to Kokanee Salmon. You won’t need to pay a fee to fish here—another reason why it’s such a busy place, especially on the weekends. If you prefer to fish in peace and quiet, come here on a weekday. 

Visit the Best Ice Fishing Spots With a New Fish Finder!

Stop by any of these destinations, and you’ll have yourself a once-in-a-lifetime ice fishing adventure. Make sure to head out while the water’s still frozen!

It’s ice fishing season, and you’re not going to let it pass you by. Just make sure you have all the supplies you need before you hit the ice!

And if you’re in the market for a new fish finder, check out the reviews on our website. We’ve set out to review every fish finder under the sun, so if you’re looking to research before you buy, we’ve got plenty of reviews for you to peruse.

Leave a Comment:

All fields with “*” are required

Leave a Comment:

All fields with “*” are required

Pin It on Pinterest