When it comes to fishing (any time of year), it's important to know where fishermen are having the most success. Knowing where the fishing hot spots are will give you a considerable edge in netting the best catches with the least amount of effort. In this sense, the sport of ice fishing is no different.
The best ice fishing destinations in America are stocked with fish species that maintain their robust appetites for your bait all year long. In contrast, some ice ponds contain fish that enter a period of relative fasting, and casting your line here could be a real bust. However, getting the big, hungry fish isn't the only concern when it comes to finding a good spot to ice fish.
Fisherman may be long accustomed to soaking up the hot sun for hours with their lines cast, creating a trouble-free atmosphere that so many of us have come to relish. There will be no such comforts out on the frozen lake. Walking on a frozen pond or lake that is unfamiliar to you could cost you your life, and that is the best reason of all to stick with the masses at these popular ice fishing destinations. Ice fishing can be hazardous to the unprepared, but being informed of the conditions and always packing for any situation should keep you and your fellow fishermen safe and secure. Before you pack your pole and tackle, put in your due diligence and learn about the safety involved in ice fishing.
While there are hundreds, maybe thousands, of great ice fishing spots in the United States, below are the top five spots that have been conglomerated based on overall experience, quality of catches, safety, and accessibility. Any one of these destinations is sure to offer the most satisfying ice fishing one could ask for.
CASPIAN LAKE, VERMONT
The local fisherman of Vermont never view the sport of fishing as a seasonal hobby. Instead, after a typically excellent summer season, the fisherman of Vermont begin anticipating Caspian Lake freezing over with "baited" breath (couldn't miss the pun op!). It's not uncommon to see fisherman leaving the ice with a hefty collection of Perch, which is far and away the most common catch here (tip: they seem to love brightly colored lures and bait). The popular autumn tourism destination will certainly be quieting down by the time the lake is frozen over, so the experience will not be burdened by massive crowds. However, should you venture out onto the lake it would be surprising if you didn't see at least another ice fisherman or two, as this lake is among the most treasured and revered of all destinations. Don't fret, there's plenty of room for everyone on this massive lake.
HIGGINS LAKE, MICHIGAN
The big draw for Higgins Lake, in a state containing hundreds of lakes, is the deep, cold waters that support an overly abundant supply of cold water species. Here you're likely to catch some yellow perch on the outer rim of the lake with trout being found in deeper territory, i.e. the center of the lake. Some late warm weather recently has prevented ice fishers from getting out onto Higgins Lake until mid-January and beyond, but this will all depend on how Mother Nature cooperates. You can consult the local tourism board for more information on timing your trip.
PEAVY RESERVOIR. MICHIGAN
It should come as no surprise to the seasoned fisherman that Michigan makes the list twice. With so many lakes, it would be hard not to list them twice. The draw to Peavy Reservoir (sometimes called Peavy Pond) is the immense diversity in the fish during the winter. Some large pike can be caught in the winter months along with a healthy population of walleye. The most common fish in the lake would be panfish, which many of the regulars will simply catch and release due to the less desirable nature of the fish.
CAPLES AND SILVER LAKES, CALIFORNIA
California doesn't exactly erect billboards advertising its incredible ice fishing, but the fact remains that these Northern California lakes provide some of the finest winter fishing in America. The main draw here is the healthy trout population, which are attracted to the holes fisherman drill in the ice, which attracts them to the surface for warmth. The scenery surrounding these lakes is absolutely stunning, making this destination tops for overall experience.