Friday, January 13, 2012

Does Winter Weather Effect Fishing Through The Ice?

 As yesterdays first winter storm pounded the midwest it got me thinking. I have heard many tales and opinions on the matter, but never really researched it much. Does the weather effect fish during the ice fishing season as much as it does the open water season? After a few google searches and reading some pretty well written articles I came up with a few things to help out fellow ice anglers this season.

 The one thing I have heard a lot about is, snow storms entice the fish to bite. In some aspects this can be true. We all know that Barometric Pressure will have an effect on fish. This still stands true during ice season as well, so keep that in mind. During a snow storm there are obviously cloudy skies blocking the sun. On days that it is cloudy you can definitely find better fishing than on a clear blue sky day. The cloud cover will reduce light penetration, and very often when there is low light penetration the fishing becomes good. Many think that with the snow and ice this reduces the light causing the bite to be better all the time. This is false. If you have a foot of snow and ice on a blue bird sky day the fishing more than likely will not be all that great. Once you see some clouds rolling in on the horizon though,  I would bet that the activity would increase dramatically. I came across an interesting  writing by Bob Jensen on this matter that I would like to share.

Written by Bob Jensen:

I was on the ice recently with ice-fishing expert Tony Roach. We were on Mille Lacs Lake in central Minnesota and for days prior to my arrival, Tony and his guests had been pounding the walleyes, lots of'em, and big ones.
Our day on the ice coincided with a sizable drop in air temperatures and high blue skies. Tony knew right away that the bite might be off a bit, but you can't catch'em if you don't drop a line through the ice, so away we went.
Tony is a proponent of drilling lots of holes and covering lots of ice, kind of like trolling on the ice. We would fish a hole maybe five minutes, keeping a close eye on the sonar. If a fish didn't show up, we moved.
If a fish was seen on the sonar, but didn't eat our bait, we moved.
We moved a lot that day.
Tony had us on fish. I could see fish on my Humminbird 55 ICE unit come up and look at my bait, then slowly drift away. This sonar does an outstanding job of revealing fish just a few inches off the bottom. We tried smaller baits, bigger baits, different colors, different jigging actions: We tried everything we could to get bit, and every now and then we did get a walleye to eat our bait. But we saw a lot more fish than we caught.
We tried different areas, and saw fish in most areas. However, one area had quite a few more fish.
In the early afternoon, we noticed clouds building on the horizon. The wind picked up for a while, then calmed down. The weather was changing. Tony suggested we get back to the area that had the most fish. He wanted to be on the best spot when this weather system arrived.
A little later in the afternoon, when the cloud cover was heavier, the walleyes went on the bite. Action picked up noticeably. It was another lesson that weather does affect fish under the ice. If you're one of those folks who likes to fish through the ice, keep in mind that weather will affect the bite. If you're on the ice and notice a change in weather, keep your bait where the fish are. That's the only way to get bit

Good Luck this ice fishing season! Tight Lines and Happy Fishing!


  1. Fishing ahead of a snow storm usually produces a ton of fish. Its like fishing for bass or bluefish before a hurricane rolls into town.

  2. Brian
    I know that ice fishing is fun but my main problem would be keeping my hands and feet warm. We here in the deep south think 32 is cold. Enjoyed the post.

  3. I find myself guilty often of ignoring weather and the effects it plays on fish activity. Getting just one or two days a week to hit the water my goal everytime i begin the hunt is to do the best with whatever conditions are presented that day.

  4. Great post. You convinced me fishing in a rain may be a good idea on monday. Me and Blake were discussing yearly patterns last week, and talked about whether or not we would get the usual hot bite at first ice, or if we missed it. What do you think Brian?

  5. Some great info. I am not the best ice fisherman so any info is always a plus. I noticed with trout fishing you show up and it looks like a perfect day, but nothing bites. I suppose they bite when it starts to snow, kind of like they go crazy when it first starts to sprinkle. Thanks for sharing. Tight lines.

  6. Good post. I've often debated weather's effect, and I still can come up with a conclusion!

  7. Great info! This post made me want to head back north...we fish muskies on Mille Lacs in the summer. now I'm daydreaming...

  8. Savage- I have never fished before a hurricane, but I could definatly see the same effects on the fish as here in the mainland.

    Bill-I wish I had your problem!lol! Its not that cold once you get in the shack and turn the heaters on.

    Blake- I definatly hear ya on ignoring the conditions when you only have a few days to fish. You have to take what you can get.

    Damien- I have had mixed results when fishing during the rain. The big thing to remember when playing the weather, is also playing barometric pressure as well. After fishing this weekend it is first ice still. Mainly cause we haven't really had any ice. First ice and last ice are always a hot ticket. I think it has to do with the drop in temp or rise. The fish need to put the feed bag on for there long lethargic winter. You guys didnt miss it yet. Get out and fish this weekend if you can.

    Magee- I have always heard trout fishing in the rain can be amazing. I would think the same would go for during a snow storm

    JBR- I agree and this was a start. I think there are so many factors that go into playing the weather that its hard to even calculate.

    Sanders- I have a friend that lives up on mille Lacs and they have been getting some nice wally eye through the ice this week. Lake of the woods has been on fire from what I hear. Muskie is a fish I haven't attempted yet but it is on the to do list.