Ice fishing is one of the most rewarding and exhilarating sports in the world.
Ice fishers travel to exotic locations to continue the great legacy of a traditional practice that has been used for thousands of years to procure sustenance in even the most forbidding environments.
If you’re new to the world of ice fishing, it’s important to have a full grasp of the options that are available to you before the first time you hit the ice.
By learning from the mistakes and successes of those who have come before you, it’s easy to ensure that your first foray as an ice fisher will be a success.
Even if you’ve been fishing on the ice for your entire life, it’s beneficial to broaden your horizons.
Instead of fishing at the same old lake every winter, you might want to spice things up by visiting a distant location to do your frigid fishing.
If you truly love ice fishing, you won’t want to let this sport lose its savor, and exploring the world that exists outside of your comfort zone can be one of the best ways to keep things fresh.
In the following article, we’ll cover some of the basics of ice fishing, and then we’ll explore a few of the ice fishing locations that have been designated by the greats as some of the best places to drop a baited hook through a hole in the ice.
How Do You Prepare for an Ice Fishing Expedition?
Going ice fishing is no walk in the park. If you aren’t properly prepared to walk the ice, you could ruin your trip before you ever set out.
Here are a few of the best ways to get ready for fishing in the frigid north:
1. Stock Up on Rods and Reels
Make sure to stock up on all of the basic fishing equipment that you’ll need to get by. These tools include reels and rods, which are a fishing enthusiast’s standbys.
If you already have reels and rods that are designed to for ice fishing, make sure to inspect them closely for damage before you hit the ice.
If you don’t have the right gear yet, visit a local outdoor supply store or your favorite ice fishing website to stock up on rods and reels that will net you a big catch.
2. Make Sure Your Auger is in Working Order
Your auger is the tool you will use to make a hole in the ice. This tool looks like an oversized drill, and most augers are powered by propane.
According to Wilderness Today, the auger models that currently reign supreme are the Ion 40V Electric Auger, the Eskimo Mako 43CC Auger, and the Strike Master Auger.
The Ion 40V Electric Auger runs off of an electric battery, and it has two handles for stability.
This drill is relatively compact, and it is available in a bright green color that is highly visible across the ice.
The Eskimo Mako 43CC Auger is powered with propane, and it is relatively bulky. It is one of the fastest augers available, and it is capable of drilling through a foot of ice in under five minutes.
The Strike Master Auger is a handheld drill. It is one of the most economical options on the market, but it requires a lot of elbow grease to operate. The Strike Master Auger is also incredibly lightweight.
3. Invest in an Ice Shack
An ice shack is a type of portable building that can be used as a home base while you fish on the ice.
Some ice shacks are nothing more than flimsy tents, but others are more like RVs with holes in the bottom that admit fishing hooks and lines.
While fishing on the ice out in the open might be the traditional way of doing things, many ice fishers opt to bring ice shacks along for the ride to make things more comfortable.
4. Bring a Heater
If you go to the effort to bring an ice shack, you’ll definitely want to invest in a heater as well.
The most popular types of heaters for ice fishing are propane heaters, and Mr. Heater is one trusted brand that makes this type of fishing equipment.
In an enclosed space, these heaters can maintain temperatures of up to 70 degrees even when you’re out on the open ice.
Best of all, most ice fishing heaters only use a single one-gallon propane canister over the course of an entire weekend.
5. Dress to Impress
No matter which other types of ice fishing equipment you bring with you, your trip will be bound for disaster if you don’t bring along the proper types of clothing.
Out on the ice, temperatures can plunge below -30 degrees Fahrenheit at night, which means that you’ll freeze if you don’t bring thermal long underwear.
You’ll also need to bring a pair of sturdy waterproof boots and thick woolen socks. You may even want to wear multiple layers of socks to trap the heat emitted by your feet.
Some ice fishers wear a layer of flannel pajamas between their long underwear and their jeans, and you’ll want to wear at least three layers on your torso.
A thickly insulated winter jacket will complete your ensemble. As long as you don’t forget your hat and gloves, you’ll have all of the ingredients to make a fishing trip that you’ll never forget.
How Do You Pick the Right Location?
After you’ve prepared yourself as best as you can for your journey to the ice, it will come time to pick a location for your adventure.
If you’re a resident of North America, it can be rewarding to travel to other continents to fish.
Citizens of the United States or Canada may, however, want to stick close to home on their first ice fishing adventures.
Doing so also eliminates the potentially heavy cost of transporting yourself and your equipment all the way to a foreign country.
However, if you’re a seasoned ice fishing veteran, you might want to spice things up and check out a location you’ve never visited before.
If you’ve already visited most of the ice fishing spots in your local area, going to uncharted territory might be the only way to keep things fresh.
What Are the Top Ice Fishing Locations by Region?
There are tons of incredible ice fishing locations all across the Northern Hemisphere, and most of these locations are open for business from November through March.
Read on to learn all about the best ice fishing locations you can visit throughout the world.
Ice Fishing in the USA
There are plenty of places to go ice fishing in the USA. In fact, tourists come from all over the world to visit this country’s coveted ice fishing spots.
According to LiveOutdoors, one of the best American ice fishing spots is Devils Lake in North Dakota.
This lake covers nearly 4,000 square miles, and it is one of the best places to catch yellow perch in the world.
These perch are also some of the biggest that has ever been found, and some of them are over two pounds in weight.
In addition, you can also catch walleye and northern pike at Devils Lake.
Another American spot that has been singled out by LiveOutdoors is Lake Champlain in Vermont.
This state is known for its skiing, but Vermont’s opportunities for catching pike, walleyes, salmon, and jumbo panfish are often overlooked.
This lake stays frozen over for at least three months out of the year, and it is one of the easiest ice fishing spots to access in the United States.
Fishing fans are lured to Lake Champlain from all over the world due to the incredible variety of fish species that live in this lake.
Lake Gogebic is in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula. It is the largest lake in this region of Michigan, and you can catch winter perch and walleye on Lake Gogebic.
There are plenty of other places to go ice fishing in Michigan, but Lake Gogebic remains a perennial favorite.
Ice Fishing in Canada
Canada is known for its long winters and endless expanses of tundra. This country’s flat northern regions are filled with large lakes and waterways, which makes Canada an ideal location to visit on an ice fishing vacation.
According to World Fishing Network, Lake of the Woods in Ontario is one of the best ice fishing spots in Canada.
This lake actually spans all the way to Manitoba and Minnesota, but it is easiest to locate from the Ontario side.
It is one of the largest freshwater lakes in North America, and it is an ideal place to fish for Walleye.
Lake trout, whitefish, and northern pike can also be found at Lake of the Woods, and there are over 40 fishing resorts in the surrounding area that can put you up while you try your luck on the ice.
World Fishing Network also points out Lake Nipissing as an ideal ice fishing location in Canada.
This lake is located in Ontario, and it is frequented by fishing greats like Bob Izumi. Lake Nipissing is near North Bay, and it is an ideal place for walleye fishing.
The walleyes in this lake can be heavier than ten pounds, and you can also fish for northern pike and perch in Lake Nipissing.
Ice Fishing in Scandinavia
If you’re a North American in search of adventure, you might want to go on an ice fishing vacation in Norway.
According to VisitNorway.com, the Gjovik region is one of the best places to go ice fishing in this country.
There are plenty of lakes to choose from in the area surrounding Gjovik, and the trout in these lakes can be heavier than five kilograms.
The best aspect of fishing in this area is the fact that you can purchase an ice auger at the Mjosa tourist office.
Fjordtitt is another popular ice fishing location in Norway, and there is a popular fishing resort right next to Einevatnet Lake, which is one of the biggest lakes in this area.
Ice Fishing in Russia
Russia’s Lake Baikal is perhaps one of the most thrilling destinations for ice fishing in the world.
According to Across and Abroad, Lake Baikal is the deepest freshwater lake in the world, and it contains more than 20 percent of the world’s freshwater.
Temperatures near Lake Baikal plummet to 20 degrees below freezing in the winter, so fishing on this lake certainly isn’t for the faint of heart.
In addition, many of the best fishing spots on this lake are significantly remote, which means you’ll need to pack all of your gear with you.
Once you reach Lake Baikal, however, you’ll realize that the journey was more than worth it.
The locals in the region will be more than happy to take you on a tour of the lake, which provides a rare opportunity to absorb some of the local Siberian cultures.
Your rewards will only grow after you drill your first hole in the lake. Lake Baikal is the only place in the world where you can catch Baikal oilfish, and grayling are also present in great abundance in this enormous lake.
You should be able to catch your fill for the day within just a few hours, and then you’ll be able to start a fire directly on the ice and cook your catch to perfection.
What Do the Experts Have to Say?
If you’re still having trouble picking the perfect place to go ice fishing, it might be helpful to get some advice directly from the mouths of some of the world’s most acclaimed ice fishers.
A channel on YouTube called Angling Buzz has submitted a seven-minute video that combines the testimonials of multiple professional ice fishers.
This video is called Favorite Ice Fishing Locations — Ice Pros Q&A, and it provides detailed information on the least-known yet best-loved ice fishing locations on the planet.