Connecticut Ice Fishing, Bass,Trout, Pickerel, Panfish


ice bass 2012If your an avid angler in colder climates ice fishing is an ideal and productive way to extend your fishing season. An Ice fishing trip can make a great family outing  and create memories that will last a life time.

Ice fishing can be simple and inexpensive or you can invest thousands in tackle and electronics just like open water fishing.

In the next few blogs I will share some of my 40  years of ice fishing experience with you.


An old rule of thumb is 4 inches of ice will safely support an angler and gear but never consider ice to be totally safe, there can be weak areas in the ice caused by many different reasons, like an underwater spring feeding the body of water or a snow covering insulating and hiding a weak spot in the ice, you should always be ready for a potential plunge through the ice but if it’s reasonably thick and strong ice you wont have to spend your day worrying just be prepared with the proper safety equipment.

Being safe: Ice fishing with a friend is always a good idea!Snapshot(4)

A charged cell phone in a water proof case, Ice pics (on your shoulders, ready to use), rope with a float attached, life vest, whistle or horn, cleats( for your boots), dry clothes in your vehicle, flashlight, also tell your family or friends where you intend to fish and when you intend to return. I also carry extra ice pics ropes and a flare gun in my emergency kit, you never know if you may have to rescue a person in distress.

Where to fish:

One way for a newbie to find good ice is to go out and scout for a body of frozen water with ice fisherman already enjoying their sport.

Another way would be to ask your local bait and tackle shop for suggestions.


What can you expect to catch? Any fish you catch in open water can be caught through the ice but like open water fishing you need to use the appropriate gear and bait selections if you seek a particular species of fish.


There are two basic ice fishing methods

jigging or the use of tip-ups also known as traps or tilts.

We will start with discussing tip-up ice fishing for beginning anglers.218474_ts


The number of traps allowed per ice fishing angler varies from state to state

Check your states guidelines and laws pertaining to ice fishing rules, baits and allowed methods.

Always put your name address and phone number on your tip-ups.

Bait: both artificial and live bait can be used when ice fishing just like open water fishing.

That being said, lets go Ice Fishing!

Old school tip-up fishing gear:

You need a tip-up loaded with ice fishing line, or several if you have them, (6 per ice fisherman is the law in Connecticut), (this article will pertain to stick style tip-ups,  I will talk about tip-up styles in a  advanced ice fishing  article), A method of chopping a hole through the ice, a depth sounding weight, barrel swivels, leader line , hooks, bait and safety equipment

A quick scouting mission at the lake can help you find a good spot to start ice fishing.

Look for other ice fishing anglers, they may have experience on the body of water you have chosen to ice fish on.

If there are no ice fisherman around check for old ice fishing holes, look for an area with signs of many old holes a clean ice fishing hole may be a sign that an ice fisherman had no luck in that particular spot.  A hole littered with weeds, blood spots, bait pieces or just a lot of footprints,  could mean that an ice fishing angler had success at that particular hole.

Assuming you have loaded your tip-ups spool with sufficient backing 50 to 100 yards of Dacron line followed by a barrel swivel and a 36 ” leader of fluorocarbon or mono your split shot and a hook about 10 inches below, you’re  ready to fish.


remember this is just a basic ice fishing guide for a beginner I will get into more complex ice fishing methods in the next few blog posts.

A good depth to start ice fishing would be about 8-16 feet of water , this should be a good depth for a beginner to see some action, we will be trying to catch pan-fish  bass, trout (if they are present) and Pickerel which are very active feeders during the winter and easily caught on a tip-up baited with a minnow, if those depths  do not exist at your chosen spot,( some good ice fishing lakes are very shallow)  you will have to adjust your depth settings accordingly


Secure your depth sounding weight to your hook and allow it to sink to the bottom.

Now that you have found bottom you need to mark that spot on your main ice fishing line, many ice fishing anglers use a shirt button threaded on their main ice fishing line before attaching their barrel swivel and leader line.

The idea here is too get your minnow swim about three feet off the bottom, a good starting point for a new ice fisherman fishing without  modern electronic depth finders , flashers and GPS systems.

Not to worry, I  caught hundreds of fish through the ice before I had the luxury of electronics by doing exactly what I am teaching you now.

Use the button or hold the marked spot on the main line between your fingers and slide your fingers 3 feet down the line towards your barrel swivel, now determine the length that your tip-up extends through the ice when set up, usually around 8 inches and raise your main line that much higher thus assuring you are about 3 feet off the bottom.

Remove your depth sounding weight from the hook and attach a minnow by carefully penetrating the the bait-fish  through it’s back, (there are several way’s to hook a shiner or minnow for ice fishing but through the back is a good method for a new ice fishing angler to start.

Deploy your shiner to it’s position ( approximately 3 feet off of the bottom) and carefully set your tip-up’s flag and place it in the over the hole.

Repeat this process with the rest of your tip-ups setting your  minnows at some different depth levels if you like, after about 1/2 hour without a flag,

you should consider resetting the depth or moving that tip-up to a new hole.



  1. Jen H. says:

    Hello, New to fishing and trying to learn some tip’s so i can out fish my boyfriend, I found what I needed and enjoyed all your informative posts.
    I’ll return but I’ll keep your website secret for now.

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