What is the Best Depth for Ice Fishing to Catch A Lot

Ice fishing at a depth of 20 ft is best to start, then adjust for type of fish and weather. Fishing for walleye is best at 15 ft, for crappie 10 ft, for lake trout 40 ft, for yellow perch 2 ft off bottom, for konanee 40 ft. Ideal depth ranges are discussed below.




15 – 25 ft


10 – 40 ft

Lake Trout

20 – 60 ft

Yellow Perch

Near bottom


Near bottom


10 – 80 ft


30 – 50 ft


6 – 12 ft

Fish under ice survive mostly by gathering near the bottom (about 20 feet deep) of the water body. In the winter period, these schools of fish will have very minimal movement as their needs for oxygen and food is relatively low.

Therefore, catching these fish in these areas is tricky because you can’t trace exactly the fish’s location. The best way to find the fish location in ice is to use a fish finder, a device with movement detection. Once you locate the fish, dig a hole to reach the freshwater, you can use tip-ups or juggling lines.

What is the best depth for ice fishing for different types of fish?

The ideal depth for ice fishing can vary depending on your location, type of fish, and even time of year. While the article aims at helping you maximize the number of fish you catch, you need to understand your fishing area since every fishing ground has its ecosystem.

Different types of ice fish are found at different depths; here are the most common fish types and best depths to find them.


Walleye is among the most common types of ice fish, and most conversations about ice fishing won’t be complete without mentioning it. While it is most hunted after a game fish, walleye remains difficult to new ice fishers.

Understanding the topography and depth that favors a walleye will boost your catch rate in the long run. First of all, the ice spots are always in the same depth, be it in winter or fall. Moreover, there is a good food base near shallows and reasonable access to deeper water in the mid-depth transitions.

Small schools of walleye mostly hold at about eighteen to twenty-five feet of water beneath the ice. The most dependable spots for this fish are around reefs, healthy weed patches near travel paths, points, and drop-offs. The people who know the sites that walleye like in the fall and summer, more so during ice up, are the most successful anglers.

This fish type moves deeper when winter approaches because the water below is warmer than the one above. At this time, a fish angler should put efforts on points and at mid-lake depths. The walleye preferences change as late winter approaches since their habits become controlled by spawn activities.

You can find the walleye in shorelines and inlets where warm water enters the lake during this period. Depths to ice fish here can vary, but you can start at fifteen feet of water.


As the plants supply food and oxygen to the crappie, the crappie will stay shallow. But as mid-winter approaches, the crappie will suspend over the deeper waters because oxygen levels would have reduced, and no sunlight to sustain the plant growth.

At this time, you can find crappies at about twenty to forty-foot basins but depending on the lake. If you want to locate them easily, you can use a flasher unit or a suitable sonar as they can be found anywhere in the waterline.

Crappie is another most craved for panfish solicited by ice fishermen. During winter doldrums, big schools of crappies are the most common welcome treat. The winter period you fish and the quality of vegetation determine the ideal depth that can hold crappies. During the first ice, you can find crappies at a depth of about eight to twelve feet of water over areas with long weeds.

Lake trout

Lake trouts often attract several hoards of fishers who all anticipate catching a trophy. While lake trout are freshwater fish of deep depths, anglers should not overlook the shallow rocks and shelves where fishers fish when winter temperatures moderate.

The ideal depth for ice fishing ice trouts can vary from one lake to another, but the most common depths are about twenty to sixty feet. Lake trout often like meandering along contour lines as they hunt; they move up or down in the water table. However, the late-season trout are harder to locate due to the less food supply. They are mostly found at the same depth in open waters, where they hunt baitfish.

Yellow perch

This is one of the most enjoyable and easiest fish to hunt all winter. Besides, these are the tastiest fish ever. You should find transition zones within shallow flat weed beds and drop-offs to deeper flats to catch more fish.

Simply use your lake’s good contour map to locate the potential fish spots. Yellow perches like holding to the bottom so, you should drop your bait down to the bottom and reel it up until it comes to one to two feet of the base.


This landlocked salmon has become the most popular ice fish for most large reservoirs and lakes. Although these are open-water target fish, they can be caught even better by ice fishing.

The fish majorly depend on light-sensitive zooplankton for food. These planktons often move up and down based on light intensity. So when the ice reduces, they will move to shallower grounds.

Lakes have currents below the ice, so it will help if you focus on bars and points that extend the waterbody.

An ice fishing sonar can help you locate the schools of kokanee.

Generally, most kokanee schools often dwell from about ten to eighty feet because they hunt the zooplankton all through the day.

You can use several techniques to catch the fish, such as hand gathering, hook lines, spearing, trap, net, or even angling.

You can carry out fishing activity in rivers, ponds, lakes, seas, or streams. But the most tricky and enjoyable place to fish is in ice, or call it ice fishing. Ice fishing is catching fish in frozen or iced freshwater bodies such as rivers, lakes, or ponds.

In most cases, water bodies with fish freeze during cold winter, making it hard for a fishing activity to occur. During these cold moments, the water’s surface forms a hard layer(ice) that helps underneath water retain its temperatures.

If you are planning to engage in ice fishing activities, then, first of all, you need to take suitable safety precautions.

The average weight of a person can be supported by a minimum of four inches of ice layer thickness. But only this should be accompanied by the use of the right tools such as safety gear. Therefore, ice layers with less than four inches of thickness are dangerous to carry the fishing activity.

You need to have proper safety gear or kits that will provide you safety. Safety gear includes a life jacket, floating rescue rope, ice chisel, hat, ice fishing suit, ice creepers/cleats, ice safety packs, and contour map.

Other essential tools you need for successful ice fishing are a proper fishing tool and, if possible, have packed food to fight hunger if you are fishing far from home.


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