Ice-fishing season is upon us, and anglers will be seeking some great spots to try their luck at wintertime fishing.
With the coming winter months, many lakes in the northern United States will freeze, and anglers leave their boats behind and take up ice fishing. The sport has grown in popularity in recent years as more fishermen have invested in augers, fishing shelters and electronic fish locators. From mid-December through mid-February, hard-water anglers travel to the frozen lakes in the north to try their hand at catching walleye, northern pike, crappie, perch and even lake trout.
While Canada remains the most popular North-American destination for ice fishing, there are still some great spots in the United States, as well. Here are our five favorites:
Lake Washington, Minnesota
Minnesota's thousands of lakes are always a draw for ice fishermen hoping to hook a variety of fish species, including walleye and pike. Hundreds of wintertime anglers venture to Lake Washington each year to participate in a catch-and-release crappie tournament that awards $1,000 to the fisherman who places 100th, so you can only imagine what the top anglers receive. Located just an hour west of Minneapolis, Lake Washington is a popular destination for Minnesotans hoping to take quick fishing trip.
The great lake draws ice anglers to destinations near its banks in Michigan, Illinois, Wisconsin and Indiana, depending on the severity of the winter. The lake is so vast, that fishermen must be cautious the ice is thick enough to hold their weight, so it's best to stay close to marinas, bays and harbors. Still, Lake Michigan offers plenty of fish, including salmon and trout, to those who brave the freezing temperatures.
Lake Winnebago, Wisconsin
Wisconsin's largest inland lake offers a variety of species to the wintertime angler, including walleye, perch, white bass and sturgeon. Fishing guides urge anglers to remain close to shore and near islands in order to avoid pressure cracks and areas of weak ice located near currents. The patient ice fishermen who digs numerous holes is often the most successful, as fish in Lake Winnebago tend to roam, especially as the season progresses.
Chambers Lake, Colorado
Colorado may not be as far north, but it's freezing Rocky Mountain temperatures provide some superb ice-fishing spots. The 250-acre Chambers Lake is a haven for Kokanee salmon, as well as both rainbow and cutthroat trout - often measuring between 16 and 18 inches in the deeper sections of the lake. Be sure and consult a local tackle shop to determine the best bait to use.
Lake Champlain, Vermont
East-coast anglers don't have to travel west to try their hand at ice-fishing. Vermont's Lake Champlain ranks among the most popular ice-fishing spots in the nation. With its hundreds of miles of shoreline that spans from Quebec to New York, the lake offers fishermen the chance to hook and net a variety of species, including salmon, trout, pike, perch, walleye and crappie.