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Ice Fishing For Lake Trout: A Helpful Guide

How to Ice Fish for Lake Trout- A Helpful Guide

A guide to ice fishing for lake troutIf you’re new to the ice fishing game or looking to add trout to your fish of choice, we’ve got some great tips for you. 

The best way to catch trout through the ice is to study their behavior and learn the topography of the lakes you fish. Having the right equipment gives you every advantage you need to fill your basket. 

If you’re trying to improve your trout fishing experience and would like more information on their habits, continue reading for some helpful tips and information.

Trout Logic - Understanding Their Behavior for a Better Fishing Experience

Whether you want to catch a lot of trout or you are just after that one trophy fish, you must understand why a trout does what it does. What makes a trout tick? 

  • What do they like to eat? 
  • When are they most active? 
  • Where do they hang out? 

These are the kinds of questions you need to be asking yourself before you set foot on the ice. Once you understand a trout’s mentality, you’re one step closer to meeting your ice fishing expectations.

What’s on the Menu - Knowing How to Attract Your Meal

Knowing what a trout, or any fish for that matter, likes to eat is key if you want to attract them. Using the wrong bait or lures makes for an unproductive and disappointing fishing trip. 

When trout are swimming about in search of something to nibble on, they are looking for the following things: 

  • Ciscoes
  • Crustaceans
  • Freshwater sponges
  • Insects
  • Lake Herring
  • Perch
  • Plankton
  • Shiners
  • Smelt
  • Whitefish

Timing is Everything When it Comes to Catching the Most Trout

When ice fishing for trout, timing is important. There’s no point drilling holes if the fish aren’t biting. 

Pick the right time of day for the best resultsIf you want to fill your fish basket, most anglers agree the best time is early to mid-morning and sometimes late afternoon into the early evening. If you enjoy night fishing, you may be disappointed if you are on the hunt for trout. They can be spotty and unpredictable at night. 

Continue reading to learn about finding the best locations for catching lake trout.

Save Your Energy - Research Before Drilling Unnecessary Ice Holes

As mentioned before, learning the topographical layout of the surface below the ice will give you a big advantage and can save you a lot of time and unnecessary physical exertion. 

Nobody wants to drill holes that are going to be unproductive, even if they do have a motorized auger. 

Know the topographyIf you have the equipment, it’s helpful to look up a topographical map of the lake you intend to fish. There is even an app for your smart device that you can download for ice fishing called Navionics™. This app has topographical maps, tips, and reviews from other anglers. You can search by the lake to find other helpful features. 

To find the best location for trout, you need to find the structural features under the ice. Trout like to hunt and trap their prey along the walls of underwater hills, reefs, and drop-off areas. 

You will likely find trout lurking near any place with baitfish hanging about. The depth in which you find trout will depend upon the structures below the surface. 

Every lake is different, so what may work in one body of water may not work in another. Rather than focus on depth when fishing for trout, focus more on the topographical features below the surface. 

Another reason to learn the topographical layout of the lake you are fishing is that trout are not sedentary creatures. They are always on the move, actively looking for their next morsel. 

If you don’t know the layout of the lake you are fishing in, you are likely going to be playing a guessing game and end up drilling a lot of extra holes. 

Next, we will discuss other helpful tips to make your fishing experience more productive.

Ice Fishing For Trout

Other Helpful Information to Help Catch More Trout

Pick the right lures

As previously mentioned, trout love to hunt baitfish. So when using live bait, go for something that tickles their fancy. Refer to the list above for ideas of what they like to eat. As far as artificial lures are concerned, the following list may help you with your endeavor. 

The following types of artificial lures are considered effective by many anglers.

Airplane Jigs

Trout can’t resist the movement of these lures as they mimic the actions of a frantic baitfish. These lures resemble the appearance of a minnow and have wing-like features that create its irresistible movement.

Bucktail Jigs

These lures also mimic the movement of a baitfish, but in a different way. This is a larger lure that can also be used in combination with live bait. This lure has white hairs and a feather-like skirt. The combo creates a movement that is sure to get noticed by a hungry trout on the prowl. 

Lipless Crankbaits

These lures have a flat side that creates a nice wobbling motion, as well as some rattlers to catch the attention of trout off in the distance. This lure was originally intended to be used for open-water fishing, but many anglers have found them handy on the ice as well. 


An oldie, but goodie. You can’t go wrong with this classic lure. Their unique shape allows them to replicate the actions of a fish in distress. A trout can’t resist a fish in distress since they are such an easy catch. The reflective surface of the spoon lures helps to attract fish that may be lingering in deeper waters by reflecting the small amounts of light that may be shining through. 


These lures are great to use at any depth. The design of this lure makes it extremely life-like as it is being pulled through the water. These lures have “hinges” that make them look like real fish swimming through the water. The realistic paint jobs and shiny markings add an extra element that drives a hungry trout crazy. 

Fishing Rods, Reels, and Line

When ice fishing for lake trout it is best to use a rod that is around 24-36” long. Be sure to use a reel that is designed for ice fishing as they typically have special lubrication to prevent freezing issues. Most anglers will use a 10-15 pound test line. If you are after rainbows or browns you can probably get away with using a 4-6 pound test line.

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