Top Ice Fishing Destinations

Ice fishing was originally designed for survival, however, it is becoming increasingly popular with leisure anglers, but where can you get to ice fish? This article provides some top destinations for those wanting to experience this type of fishing.

On the whole, in the western world, people go fishing for recreational reasons and fun. With big game fishing, fly fishing, lure fishing, specimen fishing, and carp fishing to name but a few types, the world of fishing is a battle of wits between man and fish and the challenge is tricking the fish into entering a trap, eating bait or attacking a lure.

There are exceptions to this rule, and ice fishing is one of them. Ice fishing, as its name suggests involves fishing in frozen lakes, harbors, or rivers. The primary purpose of ice fishing is to put food on the table for survival, not for recreational fun, and in certain parts of the world, this is still the case. 

Many recreational anglers, who normally don’t get the chance to go ice fishing, are finding themselves attracted to ice fishing holidays where they can experience what ice fishing is all about. These holidays are a win-win situation in that rich anglers get to go ice fishing and the locals that struggle during these frozen times get an additional source of income, as well as (potentially) more fish.

Recreational fishing allows the fisherman to do a bit of traveling whilst targeting fish. Wading through shallow streams, walking around lakes, and hiking the river banks allow the fisherman to cover a lot of ground, and water during a session. 

ice fishing Ice Fishing

Ice fishing does not allow this and the method includes finding a spot, drilling a big hole, and dropping some bait, a jig, or a lure. Some kind of windbreak is a must-have as the bitter winds are harsh. It is possible to move swims whilst ice fishing, although it is awkward as with every move a new hole has to be drilled.

Ice fishing can be considered boring compared to other fishing techniques, however, it has its challenges and it is these that attract recreational anglers. Besides, if fishing is in the blood a fisherman will be happy doing any kind of fishing. Just so long as he is fishing.

So, where would a recreational angler go to experience ice fishing? Most parts of Europe are too warm however Scandinavia has the correct climate for ice fishing at specific parts of the year. From 1 January to 30 April Sweden offers the opportunity for ice fishing in the River Lule. There are also opportunities in Norway (mountain lakes in Nordreisa are popular) and Finland, although these do not appear to be as popular as Sweden.

For the best opportunities, the European angler needs to go further afield, and across the pond, where the United States offers far more ice fishing opportunities such as:

Lake Michigan Harbors – Illinois

Southern Illinois rarely gets cold enough but Northern Illinois will not disappoint where some of the best ice fishing spots can be found at Burnham, Montrose, and Belmont where brown trout and rainbow trout are prevalent.

Higgins Lake – Michigan

Another great lake for ice fishing, this lake contains a lot of cold water fish. On both northern and southern shores, yellow perch are prevalent. For trout, it is best to head out into deeper water.

Lake Champlain – New York

This lake is arguably the best for ice fishing in the state and boasts a whole variety of fish including perch, smelts, trout, and land-locked salmon amongst many other species. 

The above are just a few opportunities for ice fishing in the United States and there are many more besides. 

What started as a means to survive and put food on the table during the harsh winter months has diversified to be a tourist attraction, which brings in additional income for the local population. 

Arguably, the United States offers the most opportunities but for the Europeans who cannot travel that far, Scandinavia is the next best location.


Read our Buying Guide: 7 Best Ice Fishing Reels To Make Your Ice Fishing Trip More Exciting.

Andrew Lang

I inherited my passion for fishing from my late father. I often write about my experiences with trout fishing, inshore fishing and deep sea fishing.