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While we can't necessarily improve ice conditions, we can help you be a better ice angler with these tips - when Mother Nature cooperates with good ice, of course.
Ice fishing is a fun, inexpensive activity to get outdoors and beat cabin fever. Follow these simple tips from our fisheries biologists for a safe and fun season:
Know Your Ice. Check the weekly DNR fishing report for ice conditions across the state. While on the ice, check the ice thickness often as you move. Be especially careful on ice around submerged trees and emergent vegetation, as this ice tends to be weaker.
Ask an experienced angler to go with you. They can teach you ice fishing techniques and help you gain confidence on the ice. Never go ice fishing alone, even if you are experienced. Let someone else know where you will be and when you expect to arrive back.
Contact your local Iowa DNR Fisheries Biologist, bait shop or fishing tackle dealer for the latest tips on places to fish, what depth and areas of the lake they are biting and hot baits.
Fish early and late in the day. Fish are more active during these times.
View a structure map of the lake you are going to fish. Downloadable fishing structure maps are available on the DNR’s Where to Fish website.
Purchase a sonar unit (electronic fish finder) to help you locate where fish are hiding. Fish generally stay a specific depth during the winter.
Learn to use spring bobbers (a piece of metal or wire that extends off the rod tip). Fish use less energy during the winter and are less aggressive. Spring bobbers let you set the depth of line and see when you have a bite, often before you even feel it on your line.
Read ice fishing articles to keep up with tackle and technique trends, as well as learn some great tips for improving your ice fishing success.
For more fishing tips, check out our Iowa Fishing board on Pinterest.