As everyone knows, when it is winter, the nights seem to be longer than the days. Many people, who love to ice fish but work, will become weekend ice fishing anglers because when they get off work it may be dusk. They figure ice fishing at night would be non-productive but you can go ice fishing at night. Although it is colder and you have to bundle up more, the fish do not care because all they know is that they are hungry and want to eat. So go ice fishing at night. You may have more luck during this time than during the day.
Ice Fishing at Night — Pros and Cons
- Ice fishing at night will give you more time to fish instead of just on the weekends. You can go at any time that you want during the week. It is a great way to relax after a stressful day at work
- There are fewer crowds at night and you can pick out the prime spot for fishing. With fewer crowds, there is a better chance of catching fish.
- Your chance to catch fish that are nocturnal, like crappies and walleye, increases when you go ice fishing at night. Since these are the two main ones that look for food at night, you can take a more relaxed approach to catch them.
- There is less wind at night than during the day. During the day the wind can make the water rougher and increase landing a fish more difficult. At night the water will remain still with a calm wind so it will be easier to land fish and with less speed, you can tolerate the cold better and longer.
- Ice fishing at night can also mean less variety of fish because some species are just not active at night. You may be able to catch trout, catfish, or others but most likely you will catch walleye or crappie.
- There is also an extra danger when ice fishing at night. One of the biggest dangers is people may be out riding snowmobiles and four-wheelers at high speeds and not be paying attention to their surroundings even if you have the proper lights or reflectors on your tent or ice shanty. You also have to watch out for thin ice patches that may not be as visible at night as they are during the day.
Species You Can Catch
When ice fishing at night, you may be able to catch any of the species of fish that are in the area where you are fishing. There are some species though that feed more exclusively at night, which are the walleye and crappie. Right before dusk and into the night, they like to freely swim around, feed, and ambush their prey. Although these two are more prevalent at night you may also catch catfish, trout, muskie, pike, or bass.
Nighttime Ice Fishing Techniques
Nighttime fishing does not mean that you have to use any different strategies or techniques to catch fish. Just put a minnow on a jigging spoon or hook up a wax worm on a jig head. Because these fish are actively feeding, it means that they are looking for food and will not have an issue targeting your bait. The one thing that you do need to change is that you make sure that you have enough light to see what you are doing.
You can also get glow jigs or glow light so the fish can see your lure. When you use the glow light, it will hook up to a small battery. The green glowing orb is put in the water through the hole and attracts small baitfish. These baitfish in turn will bring in the walleye and crappie. Glow baits will give off a shine in the water.
If you are going ice fishing at night, if possible, try to pick your spot during the daytime. This means that you should try to get to them wherever you are going ice fishing before it gets dark and putting some lines in the water. If you find it is not productive, you can move to another spot. You can also get a fish finder device so you can read the shape of the fishing area to find an ideal spot for where fish gather.
You should try to use vibrations at night because this will attract the fish even if they cannot see your bate. To use it, just slightly twist your wrist so it moves no more than 1/8th of an inch, causing your jig to vibrate. When doing this, it is important that in slow, smooth motion that you raise and lower your rod a couple of feet. By doing this, it will give the impression that your jig is moving or dancing. Just make sure that the hook end is kicking higher than the head to get the attention of the fish.
Best Nighttime Ice Fishing Places
When you decide to go ice fishing at night, it is best to choose a lake you are familiar with because you will know where to go. If you go where you are not familiar, with the lower temperatures and not being able to see in the dark can make it dangerous. Even with a light, there is a chance that you could make a misstep and step on ice that is not as thick as it should be and you could fall through. You should fish where you see humps, areas where there are a lot of permanent ice houses, major points, and weed-beds and weed-lines near drop-offs.
Night Ice Fishing Gear You May Need
Always double-check that you have everything you need before you leave your house is the key to ice fishing at night. You will always have more gear to take than you would during the day to make sure that you are comfortable and have a safe trip. You will need to make sure that you have some lights for the inside of your ice shanty, no matter what it is. You can get a variety of LED lighting systems you can use to hook up inside the ice shanty that is bright enough to let you maneuver around and do what is necessary.
For hands-free movement, bring some headlamps to use when you are traveling back and forth across the ice and when you set up for the night if you decide to spend the night there. Make sure that the outside of your ice shanty or tent is outfitted with lights or reflectors on all four corners. This will let anyone out on a four-wheeler or snowmobiles know that there is a structure there. Some companies even make white fish tents for night ice fishing. With a lighter color, it gives you better visibility inside and out and you may not need to purchase as many lights as you would with a darker tent or ice shanty. You can also wear reflective clothing so you are easy to see if outside of your ice shanty or tent.
Before you head out make sure that you check the weather to see just how cold it is going to get and if there are any storms in the forecast. When ice fishing at night it only makes sense that you will need at least one extra layer of clothes to keep warm. You could also bring some ‘hot hands’ that will help to keep your hands and digits from going numb. They also help if you accidentally get your hands wet.
Some even like to have a portable heater that runs on a battery to help keep them warm because the temperatures do start to drop as the night goes on. Some are run on gas. Just make sure that you keep your ice shanty ventilated so you do not get carbon monoxide poisoning.
Just remember that when you go ice fishing at night, it is going to be colder so make sure that you add an extra layer of warmth. You may wonder if it is worth it or if the fish will even bite but going ice fishing at night is sometimes the most successful time to go. Many species of fish feed at night, especially some of the larger fish. This could be a great opportunity to catch one of the largest fish in the area where you are ice fishing. In addition to bundling up more, make sure that you bring some extra lights so you can see inside of your ice shanty to unhook your fish, tie knots, and see where your drilled hole is.
Although there are no states in which it is illegal to go ice fishing at night¸ it is best if you check with your state to see if there are any particular laws you need to follow. Some states do make it illegal to use artificial lights to attract fish.
Also, check out the Best Places to Go Ice Fishing in Pennsylvania.