Ice Fishing in the Wisconsin Winter


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It's late December. . . temperatures are racing towards 0 degrees. Ice is covering most of the lakes in Wisconsin and getting thick on the lakes in the Northern half of the state.

This is the time of the year when the die-hards come out to take on the bitter cold to do what they love. . . fish!

But ice fishing doesn't have to be just for those fishing fanatics. If you usually put fishing into the back of your mind during the cold winter, you might want to think about reaching back and pulling it to the front a few months early. Ice fishing is definitely different than fishing in the middle of a muggy Wisconsin summer, but it may be more fun than you might be thinking it is.

Ice fishing isn't just about staring down into a dark hole in the middle of a big cold lake freezing your butt off. . . if you put your line in the water and do nothing but sit and stare at the hole and never get a bite, that could end up being a long boring day, but you can make it fun (but if the fish are active and biting, then it will be fun regardless!). . .

Go with friends! Unless you need some “alone time, " ice fishing with friends or family always makes for a better experience. Since ice fishing is more of a waiting game than fast-action summer fishing is, if you don't have somebody to talk to, you might start talking to yourself! If you do go along, at least bring a radio.

Got snowmobiles or ATVs? Do you know somebody who does? Take them out on the lake with you. Set your tip-ups up, and then go for a ride around the lake. . . as long as you don't get to far away from your tip-ups, you may be able to do a little exploring or have a little fun while your waiting for that 8 pound walleye to take your bait.

Don't forget that hot chocolate or coffee! If it's cold, nothing helps keep you warm like a hot drink. . . and to me, no other hot drink beats hot chocolate. Soup is always good too. . . and if you plan on making a lunch on the lake from all the fish your catching, be sure to bring cooking supplies, including something to actually cook the fish with.

If you're going with friends, bring something to toss around. . . a football, frisbee, hacky-sack, whatever. . . just don't kill yourself diving for a catch on the ice! These things will at least keep you busy while you wait for that tip-up flag to spring up.

Just remember, to make sure that you stay close enough to the tip-ups at all times so that you can respond within a reasonable time of the flag going up.

So, if you've always stuck to summer fishing and never wanted to venture out fishing during the winter months, you ought to give it a try this winter. . . you might just find out what a great rewarding experience it can be. . .

And just remember, unlike Wisconsin's muggy summers, there are absolutely no bugs biting you while you are ice fishing, so you can keep that mosquito spray at home!

Scott Pinkert runs a great Wisconsin fishing resource site called Go Wisconsin Fishing. The website is an excellent resource for everything you want or need to know about fishing in Wisconsin. You can check out the site by visiting . For more articles like this, sign up for his monthly newsletter at


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