Catch More Fish Ice Fishing At This Time

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Does the time of day really matter when it comes to ice fishing? A lot of people think it doesn’t really matter because the water is normally the same temperature all day, but is that actually true?

For most species, ice fishing is best in the morning and afternoon. Fish will be the most active from sunrise to 11 am and from 3 pm until sunset.

I’ve noticed that a few lakes are slightly different, but this is a good rule to go by. It also depends on what fish you’re after. Most fish are active during these hours, but that’s not the case for all types (we’ll talk about this later).

I’ve also heard from a lot of people that ice fishing is best during the first and last month. The first month the ice is on and the month it comes off is usually the best. I don’t really know the reason behind it, but it seems to be true.

It’s also a good idea to drill your hole in a spot with snow. If the ice is clear and it’s sunny out, you’ll have a shadow that can spook the fish.

Best Time Of Day For Ice Fishing

When it comes to time of day, I’ve been able to catch fish at all times. Early morning, late morning, afternoon, and night. That being said, some of those times are way more consistent for ice fishing.

FishBest Time Of Day
PanfishMorning
After Sunset
KokaneeMorning
Late Afternoon
TroutMorning
Late Afternoon
WalleyeEvening
Lake TroutMorning
Evening
PikeMid-Day

These are just general guidelines and it’ll depend on the lake and weather. The amount of sunlight or how cold it is can also impact the best time of day. We’ll jump into more details of each species.

Best Time Of Day To Ice Fish For Perch & Crappie

Best time: Early morning and late-night.

The best time of day to ice fish for perch and crappie is early morning and late night. The water is darker during these times and smaller panfish will come out from the weed beds and be more active.

You’ll most likely find these fish in areas that have a lot of cover. Know where the weed beds, fallen trees, and rock piles are. This is probably where they’ll be hiding from the bigger fish.

I think the reason they’re more active in low light is that they’re less likely to get eaten by other fish. More light means clearer water, and they’re probably hiding when things brighten up.

Best Time Of Day To Ice Fish For Kokanee & Trout

Best time: Morning and late afternoon.

The best time of day to ice fish for trout and kokanee is when light conditions are low. Most anglers have the best success from dawn until 11 am and from 3 pm until 6 pm.

Trout are much more active in the winter months compared to most fish and they’ll normally be found in the shallows. They are carnivores so make sure you’re using something that’s rich in protein.

Kokanee tends to stay in groups in deeper water (15 to 70 feet) so they’ll be harder to catch. If you can find where they’re hanging out and the time of day is right you should have no problem catching your limit.

Best Time Of Day To Ice Fish For Walleye

Best time: In the evening.

The best time of day to ice fish for walleye is when light conditions are low. This means morning and evenings are ideal, but most walleye anglers prefer fishing in the evening.

Somewhere around an hour and a half before sunset seems to be really good and the best place to get them is in the shallows near a point. You can catch them at other times but the majority of walleye fishers I know will start mid-afternoon and fish into the evening.

It’s normally a good idea to have a few holes drilled at different depths to catch them as they come in but you’ll want to make sure your hole is drilled in a spot that is covered in snow (if you can). Any sort of light seems to spook them off and the snow will help block out some of that light.

Best Time Of Day To Ice Fish For Lake Trout

Best time: Morning and evening.

The best time of day to ice fish for lake trout is from sunrise to 11 am and from 3 pm to sunset. These times are normally not as bright and are when baitfish tend to be more active.

During the day when the sun is out, the smaller fish tend to hide out because it’s easier for a bigger fish to see them. This is why things normally slow down during the day.

When things aren’t so bright, baitfish will be a lot more active, and that’s when lake trout look for their next meal. Focus on these times and you’ll have a better chance of landing a nice fish.

Best Time Of Day To Ice Fish For Pike

Best time: During the day.

The best time of day to ice fish for pike is during the day. This is opposite to most fish, but pike doesn’t have the best eyesight, so that’s why early afternoon is the best choice for catching nice pike.

If the sun is out, the best place to look for pike is around places that have a lot of cover (weed beds and stuff like that). Most of the baitfish will be less active during the day and will be hiding out. This is what the pike are looking for so it’s probably where you’ll want to be.

If you can find a spot that has some sort of weed bed or vegetation and fish along the edge (where the water depth drops off) you should have no troubles at all landing a nice pike.

Why Morning And Evening Is Best For Ice Fishing

I’m sure you’ve heard that the morning and evening are the best times to catch fish. That’s what people say for both ice fishing as well as fishing in the summer.

The reason ice fishing is the best in the morning and evening is that this is when zooplankton comes higher up in the water column. During the day, zooplankton descends down the water column and the feeding frenzy slows down.

If there’s zooplankton available for the smaller fish, they’ll become a lot more active. If there’s smaller fish eating, the bigger fish will also come to the area. Bluegill and smaller panfish will feed on zooplankton, and then the bigger bass and lake trout will feed on the panfish.

Is Ice Fishing Good At Night

If I had to guess I’d say that 80-90% of people have never fished at night. For a long time I had heard that the fishing slows way down, but is that actually true?

Ice fishing at night is good for certain species but will be very slow for others. Ice fishing in the dark is an effective way to catch fish that prefer low light conditions, such as walleye, burbot, and catfish.

What you can also do is fish with light (if you’re allowed to). You can buy these bright green lights that will light the water up, and it’s an effective way to catch crappie, perch, and the odd pike. Be sure you’re allowed to fish with lights though.

Does Weather Affect Ice Fishing

I’m sure you’ve heard that it’s a good idea to go fishing after it rains. Or maybe you’ve heard that it’s not even worth your time when there’s a full moon. Are these true or are they just a complete myth?

Weather does have a big impact on ice fishing and it’s something you need to be aware of beforehand. An example is that fishing slows down when a cold front is coming through or when you have bright conditions and clear ice.

Everyone knows that weather affects fishing in the spring and summer, but most people don’t even think about that in the winter. It can really make all the difference in the world for ice fishing as well.

If the temperature is starting to drop and a cold front is moving in, the fishing will most likely slow right down. If temperatures are warming up to around freezing, the bite will really pick up.

Also, if you’re fishing on clear ice and it’s really bright out, you might have issues catching something. Always fish on snow-covered ice (if you can) because fish will be more active in shaded areas. If not, your reflection could shine through the ice.

Jon Webber

I'm by no means an outdoors or fishing expert, but it's something I've been interested in for over 20 years. I created this site to test out different gear and techniques to see what actually works.

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