Become a Better Ice Angler

You always hear the same words muttered from a disgruntled fisherman, “They just stopped biting”. Most fishermen, ice anglers, perform the same routine when heading out to the ice. They catch several fish all at once and then it seems to slow down or stop completely. They try to change depths, colors or even head to the next fishing hole. When none of this seems to work, instead of muttering that same disgruntled phrase next time, try some of the tips that I will be telling you about.


When considering the color of your jig, don’t forget that the style is just as important. Most ice anglers use a tear drop shaped vertical jig that rests vertically in the water. If the fish stop biting your vertical jig, maybe it’s time to switch to a horizontal jig that hangs horizontally. Fish, such as crappie and perch will bite better on a horizontal jig than on a vertical one.

Twist Your Line

Most fishermen move their jig in an up and down motion. If fish become used to this movement, they will stop reacting to it and lose interest. In order to start tricking the fish again, hold the line between your thumb and index finger and twist the line between your fingers. This will cause the jig to spin while remaining at the same depth. Another motion to try is to move the jig around the perimeter of the hole without using the up and down motion. Fish that occupy shallower waters will react to this technique better.

Switch your Bait

Switch over from bait to plastic lures. I know this goes against most beliefs in ice fishing but, bluegills and some of the other panfish will grow tired of live bait. When the fish seem to grow tired of the bait, switch to a 1/80 round head jig with a small bit of plastic hooked to it. The slightest movement of your rod tip will cause the finesse tail on the jig to quiver and shake. These jigs also perform brilliantly in clear water.


Another way to ensure a good catch is to bounce your jig off the bottom of the lake. Perch are bottom feeders. By bouncing your jig off the bottom, it will create a sound and a cloud of debris that will attract more fish. Aside from a bounce, resting the jig on the bottom will also attract perch in the same way.

Watch the Fish

Although it may cause a crick in your neck, watching the fish take your bait is a great way to learn how different fish respond to your various baits and jigging techniques. It also helps you to snag that prize bluegill. Bluegill will usually stare at bait for a while before taking it. Once it takes the bait, it inhales it and then quickly spits it out. If you are able to watch the bluegill take the bait, you have a better chance at hooking it.


Chumming your hole will give you an advantage over other fishermen in the area. It will also attract more fish and cause them to feed more aggressively.

Switching Sizes

When changing the color on your jig doesn’t work, try changing the size. If you are using a larger jig and the biting slows, switch to a smaller jig. Catch as many fish as you can on the smaller jig and then switch back to a
larger jig and so forth.

Put Down Your Rod

Setting your rod down will cause your bait to sit completely motionless. You may think you have the steadiest hand in the world, but the reality is a rod holder has a much steadier hand.

Cover the Hole

When you are fishing in shallower water, cover your hole with ice shavings to try and limit the amount of light that penetrates into the water. This works for clear or cloudy water. A glow in the dark jig also has the same effect.


If you are fishing for deep water panfish, don’t use ultra light line. Two pound and less test line has too much stretch. This makes it difficult to feel light bites or set the hook up in more than 20 feet of water. If you wish to catch more fish in deeper waters, you need to use a super line.

I hope that with these tips, your next fishing trip will produce more fish and will not leave you disgruntled.