As far as types of fishing go, Ice Fishing can definitely be one of the harder to master varieties out there.
Proving to be difficult even further is attempting to do so at night!
However, it can be some of the most rewarding things to spend your time doing and can be a truly unique experience that you just have to try for yourself.
Within this article, we will go over 17 different ice fishing tips that will allow you to get the most out of your nighttime ice fishing trips and to ensure that you are keeping your safety at the forefront of your mind.
Table of Contents
- 1 1. Check the ice thickness
- 2 2. Wear reflective clothes
- 3 3. Keep a light source with you
- 4 4. Don’t fish alone
- 5 5. Try fishing higher
- 6 6. Set up early
- 7 7. Bells and Whistles (and LEDs)
- 8 8. Bring a variety of lures
- 9 9. Dress for the occasion
- 10 10. Avoid the full moon
- 11 11. Keep your energy up
- 12 12. Use an ice fishing line
- 13 13. Stay comfy
- 14 14. Be aware of the golden hour
- 15 15. If you are low on bites, try using a red light
- 16 16. Drill multiple holes
- 17 17. Check the weather forecast
- 18 Conclusion
1. Check the ice thickness
Making sure that you are always walking on stable surfaces is of great importance to making sure that you remain as safe as possible when out ice fishing at night.
Checking to make sure that the ice is thick enough to support the weight of you and your gear is always something that should be done.
You can often find the ice thickness reports on-site or online on the website of whatever lake or park you are fishing in – so be sure to check them out as it takes very little time but is vitally important.
2. Wear reflective clothes
One thing that may be overlooked by people ice fishing at night is your visibility to vehicles. There can often be snowmobiles that are used by park rangers or stewards of the parks or lakes you can ice fish at.
They will be making patrols even at night and even with their headlights, the visibility is low enough that they might not see you until too late.
So, to make sure that you remain as safe as possible, you should be sure to wear some reflective type of clothing, and this way you will increase your visibility.
3. Keep a light source with you
As everybody knows, it can be extremely hard to see in the dark. Making sure you are aware of your surroundings is important all of the time but, especially with ice fishing, this need for awareness is more prevalent at night time.
This is why it is important that you bring a light source with you.
Something like an LED headlamp would do wonders in terms of keeping the area around in good visibility and they are relatively inexpensive.
So make sure to invest in your safety and get yourself a portable light source.
4. Don’t fish alone
One of the most important safety tips for ice fishing, whether you are going at night or even during the day, is to take a friend with you.
Ice fishing is inherently dangerous and so it is very important that you do all you can to mitigate this danger or at least prepare for the worst.
If you were to go alone, all it would take it a little bit of bad luck and you would be lost to the icy depths without a trace, but with a friend alongside you, should the worst happen, they can call for help and make sure that you live to fish another day.
5. Try fishing higher
When ice fishing at night, you may find that you are not getting as many bites as you would like.
There may be a way to fix this however, if you try fishing at a slightly higher point you may find that the bites will start to increase.
This is simply because, at night, a lot of species of fish prefer to swim higher in the waters in search of food and nutrients.
So be sure to adjust if you feel you could be getting more bites when fishing at night.
6. Set up early
One of the best ways to make ice fishing at night just that much easier, which can be needed given its somewhat difficult nature, is to come early and set up whilst you have still got some sunlight.
As the sun goes down, it is going to become increasingly more difficult to get everything that you need set up, so try to head down early and get ahead of the darkness.
This way you will avoid and unnecessary accidents and the overall setting up experience will be much more easy to accomplish.
7. Bells and Whistles (and LEDs)
Even with increased visibility from bringing your own light source, you may struggle to be able to notice when you have got a bite on any line you have left standing alone.
With the darkness, some more subtle movements will go unnoticed as would be expected.
To counteract this, something you can do is to attach a small bell to the line, so that you have an audible cue for when you have something.
Another thing you can do is to attach a small LED light in the same place, this will allow for you to much more easily see when the line is being manipulated. Of course, you can also use both.
8. Bring a variety of lures
Making sure you are prepared is always an important factor in making sure you have a fruitful time when out fishing and ice fishing is no different, especially at night.
If you are ice fishing at night and are low on bites, and have already tried adjusting your fishing height, then swapping out to a new lure can help.
Sometimes fish may not see your lure or may be avoiding it, so switching out to a new one can often provide you with more bites.
Don’t be afraid to swap out your lure multiple times to make sure that you can get the optimal amount of bites.
9. Dress for the occasion
By nature, ice fishing is going to be quite a chilly experience for obvious reasons. At night, however, it can become even colder as the sun goes down.
This is why you should always wrap up the best you can and prepare for the cold.
Wearing thick and insulate clothing that is waterproof will be your best bet and you should take careful consideration to ensure that your clothing is indeed waterproof.
Water in such cold conditions can cause major discomfort and even hypothermia if it soaks through your clothes to always be prepared.
10. Avoid the full moon
Many people who ice fish often report that there is usually a drop in bites during the full moon. So, if you can avoid it then you should try to rearrange your trip for another time.
All you need to do is check the lunar cycle and where it is at currently and then if there is a full moon when you intend to fish, adjust your trip accordingly.
Of course, if you can’t rearrange then you can go regardless but be prepared for a lower amount of bites.
11. Keep your energy up
When ice fishing it is always important to keep your wits about you, this is even more important when attempting to do so at night time.
One of the easiest ways to make sure you are alert at all times is to bring some food and drink with you to keep your energy up.
Bringing some coffee in a flask can be good to keep you awake and to keep you warm, and bring some hearty food with you to keep yourself ticking over.
Oatcakes and granola are some foods that are easily transported and will keep your energy levels up.
12. Use an ice fishing line
Another thing that can improve your efficiency when ice fishing, is to use a fishing line that is specialized for the job.
Normal lines may not be able to hold up to the task of fishing in such cold conditions and in some cases can even freeze.
This is why using a line made for ice fishing can be a great idea, it will last much better in the conditions and will stay nimble so that you can more easily get a great catch.
These lines will also tend to be less visible to fish and so may also increase your amounts of bites, as they will only see the lure.
13. Stay comfy
Making sure that you remain as comfortable as possible is an important part of making sure that you can enjoy the time that you spend ice fishing.
Keeping yourself wrapped up warm with layers of waterproof insulation, heavy gloves, and boots, and some thick headwear will all go a long way.
Another way to stay comfy is to bring something like a foldable chair with you, this way you won’t have to either sit directly on the ice or stand for hours at a time and will make the fishing session that much better for you.
14. Be aware of the golden hour
If you take our advice to set up early whilst you still have sunlight, then you will be in a prime position to take advantage of the golden hour.
This is the half an hour before and after the sun starts to set that sees a rise in fish activity.
As the fish move to and from new feeding areas, you will be able to get some quality bites at a time when there is a boost in activity, and so you would be missing out not to take advantage of it.
15. If you are low on bites, try using a red light
Even though it is important to bring your own light source in order to improve your visibility, it can sometimes cause fish to become spooked, if the light source is too bright.
There is a way around this however.
For one you can try turning down the light level just a bit and see if bites improve, if this still doesn’t work then you can try switching to a softer red light.
Most LED headlamps will come with a red light setting and it can be great for ice fishing at night.
16. Drill multiple holes
Sometimes when ice fishing, you will drill a hole in the ice and set up to fish and then proceed to get very little in the way of bites.
When this happens you simply drill another hole and then try again.
One way to speed up this process is to drill multiple holes in advance and this way you can either set up in all of them at once or switch between them if you feel like your bites are too low at your current hole.
17. Check the weather forecast
A crucial aspect that you shouldn’t overlook is the weather. Ice fishing at night is already a dangerous environment, and you would do well to make sure that you can mitigate as much of this difficulty as you can.
Checking the weather forecast before a potential trip out to ice fish will allow you to either postpone and go another day or make the necessary preparations to brave the conditions. Just make sure you don’t get caught in a snowstorm!
To conclude, there are a great many tips and tricks that can be utilized in order to make your nighttime ice fishing trips more efficient as well as safer in nature.
Whether bring an additional light source, wrapping up warm, or checking the forecast, anything and everything you do to make sure that you are as safe as possible when out on the ice is worth it.
Hopefully, this article has been useful in giving you some useful tips that can allow you to make the most out of your time spent ice fishing at night.