One of our favorite things to do each winter is plan a trip to a new destination on the ice. Winter brings a sense of adventure, amazing scenery, and of course, fun new places to fish. Not only is it exciting to see new places and fish new lakes, it’s also enjoyable to learn new ways to fish and compare local techniques. We suggest looking at these destinations to see something new, something different and take an adventure off the beaten path. Oh, and by the way, any one of these destinations could land you your next personal best fish.
Visit Sunset Country in Northern Ontario late in the season for some of the best Lake Trout fishing on Earth! Fish can be caught on hair jigs, tube jigs, spoons, and of course hanging dead bait. Lake Trout pushing the 20lb mark are not unheard of in this area, and Lake of the Woods also has very strong numbers. Keep an eye in the middle of the water column, as Lake Trout often relate to thermoclines and schools of bait fish roaming at various depths over deeper water, but can also move shallow to feed. A rod with a good backbone and a reel with a high-quality drag system are recommended if you are going head north and battle these giants!
National attention was brought to this lake in 2016 when a new World Record Perch was caught that weighed over 2lb 15 ounces and had a girth of 13 ¼ inches. 12-year-old Tia Wiese caught the behemoth fish on a tip-up. The lake can be challenging to locate schools of fish, but a combination of hole hopping with a jig and setting out tip-downs or tip-ups are an effective way to find fish in the system. Several guides also service the lake and can help put you on the fish. This is one bucket list trip that could just fill that bucket…. with 2+ pound Perch!
One of Minnesota’s most legendary fisheries, Mille Lacs should be at the top of your list if you want to experience some of the finest Walleye, Pike, and Panfish action in the ice belt. Rent a cabin lakeside or check out one of the 100’s of sleeper shack rental options and experience a weekend on the ice like no other. If you haven’t been woken up by the sound of a rattle reel being set off by a 28” Walleye at least once in your life, you owe it to yourself to do so.
If you are looking for a fun, family friendly vacation with some ice fishing included, the Minocqua Wisconsin area could be just what you are looking for. With hundreds of miles of snowmobile trails, ski trails, legendary Supper Clubs, and a vibrant downtown area, Minocqua offers something for the entire family and is surrounded by great ice fishing and Northwoods beauty. If you’re looking for an ice fishing trip that has more than just fishing to offer, check out the Minocqua area this winter and bring the family to celebrate winter in the heart of Northern Wisconsin.
The backwaters of the Mississippi River may be one of the best kept secrets in ice fishing. An angler must pay careful attention to ice conditions, as they are always changing on the river, but once the backwaters and sloughs are frozen and safe to travel, lots of big panfish move in and the action can be fast. The stretch of water spanning from Lake City, MN, over to Wisconsin and down into Iowa can all be productive water to fish, however an angler should pay attention to location to make sure they are following the proper state laws based on their geography. Fish tend to grow fast in this fertile system, and the panfish numbers have exploded in recent years.
A hidden gem in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula, Little Bay De Noc offers some of the best big Walleye potential in the ice belt. This 30,000 acre bay on the northern tip of Lake Michigan offers the potential to catch a 12 pounder, and also has a healthy and abundant Perch population. The reefs between Kipling and Rapid River offer prime structure and are a great starting point for finding Walleye at various depths, while large schools of Perch are often found roaming the numerous sand flats around the bay.
When looking for a scenic ice fishing destination, Eskimo Pro Staffer Matt Mascarenas suggests visiting the mile-high state of Colorado and checking out Williams Fork Reservoir for Rainbow Trout, Kokanee, and Northern Pike. This 1600 acre lake is right on the divide of the high country, and offers amazing scenery and great fishing. If fishing in the mountains of Colorado is on your bucket list, check out Williams Fork Reservoir along the numerous pristine lakes in the Granby area, surrounded by Rocky Mountain National Park.
Located about an hour north of Toronto, Lake Simcoe is a one of the most popular ice fishing destinations in all of Ontario thanks to its ease of access and reputation as a fishery. Yellow Perch are the top prize on Simcoe in the winter and fish from 12-15” are possible. Catches of Trout, Pike, and Walleye are also not uncommon. Safe ice fishing typically starts in January, and Perch can be caught on spoons, jigging minnow style baits as well as live bait.