The best time to go ice fishing is at dusk and dawn because that is when fish are actively feeding. Each type of fish has an ideal time for example:
Pike – noon – 4pm
Perch – 11am – 4pm
Bluegill – noon – 4pm
Walleye – dusk to night
Catfish – dusk and dawn
Fish tend to go on a feeding frenzy during dusk and dawn, so those times are usually best for catching them. Another thing to consider is the angle of the sun – if it’s early in the morning or late at night it will be obscured by the horizon, so as long as you can see clearly into the water you’ll be able to catch just as many fish.
Just before and after those times is also prime time for catching fish because there is enough light but they still tend to rise closer to the surface.
Fishing can be hit or miss, some days you catch 4 per hour, other days nothing.
If you are fishing for trout, the best time to go out will be just before dawn because that’s when they’re most active. On the other hand, if you’re after pike then it’s best to go between noon and 4 PM because this is when they are most likely to come closer to the surface.
Fishing for different types of fish also means fishing at different depths. Small baitfish will be a lot closer to the surface, so even early in the morning would be a good time to go since you’ll have to drop your line deeper anyways.
Lake trout can often be found swimming deeper down, making them harder to catch, but they can be more likely to bite during the middle of the day. This is because as the day progresses, many of their prey will swim upwards towards the surface. In that case you’ll want to go out right before dawn or right after sunset when smaller fish are still on the move but lake trout have not yet started feeding.
There are many different types of fish that you can catch while ice fishing, and the best time to go out will depend on both where you’re looking for them and what type of fish they are.
For example, if you’re looking for trout or salmon then it’s best to go during dawn or dusk – around sunrise or sunset – when they’re on the move, while you’ll want to go out in the middle of the day if you’re looking for panfish or perch. The more specific a type of fish is, the more time you’ll have to plan around it.
If you’re going after lake trout then you’ll want to go out around noon or 4 PM when they’ve done most of their feeding and are swimming closer to the surface; however, if you’re looking for rainbow trout or salmon then dawn and dusk would be best since those fish swim closer to the surface at those times. It’s also important to remember that you’ll need a different type of gear and bait depending on what kind of fish you’re going for.
For example, lake trout can often be caught using dead or cut bait such as chubs, suckerfish and whitefish; however, other fish that are smaller will require lighter equipment and more sensitive bait. For example, if you’re looking for panfish then using a jig with a waxworm would be best because the light weight of the jig allows it to move around more freely to simulate prey, while heavier lures can’t move as much so they won’t be as successful.
Know the rules and regulations of the lake/area you are ice fishing, because many lakes have restricted areas where people can not fish during certain times of year because there are spawning fish here (or other reasons).
Some examples might be no fishing on weekends or certain months for specific types of fish; or that there is a “no ice fishing” side of the lake/area and a “ice fishing only” side of the lake. Also, there might be restrictions on gear and bait that you can use (e.g., inline spinners are banned from one fishery).
Also, when you go out make sure to take note of when the sun will rise and set as you may only be able to fish for a few hours before or after those times, thus it is best to know ahead of time.
On a side note, you also might want to take note of ice thickness because thin ice can break and cause injury to yourself and damage your gear. One way to tell the thickness is by using a drill and checking for bubbles in the ice. If there are bubbles then it means that it’s not thick enough yet because water is coming up through the ice. If there isn’t any bubbles then it should be safe to venture onto the ice.
If you are unsure of the thickness, take another person with you while fishing so that one can fish and one can test the thickness at all times.
There is no “one size fits all” answer for the best time to go ice fishing. It really depends on what kind of fish you’re going after and if you want to go during the day or night (or both). If you know what you’re doing and use the right gear and bait then your chances of catching fish are much greater.
Size Hole for Ice Fishing
Ice Fish Alone
Cold Weather Front Affect Ice Fishing
Time of Day to Go Ice Fishing
Depth for Ice Fishing
Catch Fish with Hotdogs
Baits vs Lures