What a Great Catch! Ice Fishing in Northern WI

Midwesterners know that the fishing season doesn’t end once the temperatures drop. When snow covers the ground, and ice covers our favorite fishing lakes, dedicated anglers dust off their ice fishing shelters, fill their thermos’ with hot coffee, and head out onto the ice.

Ice fishing is still alive in the Northern states, and many anglers prefer modern ice fishing to other forms of fishing. Although it’s gear-intensive, ice fishing is a relaxing time. 

Once you finish drilling a hole in the ice and set up your shanty, you’ve got a cozy shelter to sit back, relax, swap stories, and hopefully reel in some fresh fish.

Are you looking to get started with ice fishing? The first thing you’ll need is a frozen lake, preferably surrounded by nature.

Heartwood Resort in Northern Wisconsin is the perfect destination for new and experienced ice anglers alike. Keep reading to discover why ice fishing remains a Midwestern tradition and why finding the right body of water is essential for a productive day. 

Benefits of Ice Fishing

A man holding his ice fishing catch.

When winter comes, a lot of Midwesterners stay cooped up inside for months on end. Even anglers stay inside, waiting for the ice to thaw and for spring spawning to begin in their favorite water. 

But you can catch fish year-round. You just need to change your tactics. Although very different from conventional or flyfishing, ice fishing is a great way to get outside in the winter, boosting both your mental and physical health.

By taking up ice fishing, you may find yourself looking forward to winter rather than dreading it. And who knows, you may even develop some new family traditions, as ice fishing can be fun for the whole family.

On warmer days, you can sit out in the open, taking in your natural surroundings. On cooler days, you can set up an ice shanty, a small, portable shelter that blocks winter and precipitation. It creates a cozy, warm room surrounding your hole in the ice. 

And because multiple people can use a single hole, you get to enjoy each other’s company when fishing. That’s why many people prefer ice fishing since the conversation never has to stop. 

And if you appreciate the taste of fresh fish in the kitchen, ice fishing may be the only way to stock up. 

How to Ice Fish

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When heading out to ice fish, your first step is finding a lake or pond with thick enough ice to support your weight safely. You want to ensure the ice thickness is at least four to six inches thick before even taking a step. 

You’ll want to purchase an ice auger, or at least bring a cordless drill or ice chisel, to carve a hole in the ice. Cut through the ice and measure using a tape measure or ruler.

If the ice is thick enough, you can start walking out. You should remeasure the ice every 150 feet to ensure it’s still safe enough.

When heading out onto the ice, you should bring a sled to carry all of your fishing gear. Along with a shanty, you’ll want chairs, snacks, hot coffee, and extra layers in case you get cold. 

Once you find your fishing spot and create a hole big enough for fishing, you can set up your fish house. Some anglers will hold their ice fishing rods the entire time, while others will set up stands to hold their rods until a fish bites. 

And if you are fishing in Wisconsin, be sure to have a Wisconsin fishing license, which can be purchased online or at local tackle shops and sports retailers. 

What Can You Catch Through the Ice?

A pike on the ice after being caught from ice fishing.

So what can you expect to catch through the ice? Well, you’ll be fishing over lakes, which rules out trout, salmon, and other river species.

And even though bass rules the lake during the summer, they are tough to find in the winter. When the ice is thick, there are just a few active species.

Yellow perch are commonly caught all winter long. And most anglers don’t complain, as they make for some of the finest freshwater meals.

You can also catch bluegill and crappie through the ice. But if you are looking for something bigger, then you are probably targeting Northern Pike. If you are lucky, you may even hook some walleye, which are beautiful fish that also taste great.

And if you can find the right lake, you can even catch a Midwest favorite freshwater fish; the lake trout. These fish are fast and powerful and will even put up a good fight in the dead of winter. 

Ice Fishing at Heartwood Resort

The Eagle Lodge at Heartwood Resort in the winter time covered in snow.

Are you looking for a winter escape? Ice fishing in Northern Wisconsin is a dream come true. 

In winter, the snow that covers our expansive, Northwoods forest is beautiful and uninterrupted by large cities and busy roads. When you set up your ice fishing hole near Heartwood Resort, you’ll truly enjoy the soft sounds of winter and hungry, unpressured fish.

Heartwood Resort sits on 700 beautiful acres of forest, with two lakes situated right on our property. If you stay with us, you can walk out in the morning, carrying your fishing equipment, and get started right away.

Even better, you can make an entire weekend out of it. 

Heartwood Resort has 50 hotel-style rooms, which boast modern amenities with charming, rustic flair. Or, if you need a little extra space or want to share a spot with your family or fishing buddies, you can rent one of our lakeside cottages or duplex cabins. 

These are equipped with full kitchens so that you can cook your catch. 

Are you tired of catching fish? There are plenty of other winter activities around the area, such as cross country skiing, along with an extensive network of snowmobile trails. 

While the Hoinville Lake at Heartwood Resort is catch-and-release only, plenty of nearby bodies of water are available for those looking for a delicious fish fry dinner. 

Check out Matthews Lake, Chicog Lake, and Lower Mackenzie Lake nearby as well. And you can often find ice fishing contests taking place in Washburn County. There’s usually an ice fishing contest at Spooner Lake, where you can put your ice fishing skills to the test. 

Book Your Winter Trip Today

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Ice fishing is a true Midwestern tradition. If you are new to the sport, it’s time to get started, as it may become your favorite winter activity.

Whether you are brand new or have been fishing the ice for decades, finding a new spot in the woods will make the experience that much better. Book an ice fishing retreat this winter at Heartwood Resort for cozy accommodation, easy ice access, and tons of big, hungry fish.