Tips on Ice Fishing for Rainbow Trout

This blog post is going to be all about ice fishing rainbow trout tips. I have been ice fishing for trout since I was a kid and have learned a lot of tricks throughout the years.

The following 15 tips will be worth their weight in gold for those who are just getting started or even for seasoned veterans.

Find the right spot.

This may seem pretty obvious but it really is a crucial step in having any luck at all ice fishing for trout. You need to find small or shallow bodies of water that are not too far from an area with some good road access back to your vehicle.

The key here is to stay away from the deep holes because those will usually be crowded with fishing that will out fish you.

Make sure the hole is drilled in the right spot.

Drilling your ice fishing hole in the wrong place can really mess up your day for many reasons, so make sure you have a good feel for where trout will be holding at any given time of year. I learned this the hard way.

After two hours of ice fishing with no interest in what I was doing, I finally decided to move my hole over about 10 feet and BAM! Trout started hitting like crazy.

This is one of the best tips to remember if you are just starting out or even if you have been doing this for a while.

Keep your line tight near the hole.

I got into a lot of trouble early on when I was ice fishing because I would keep my line out about 30 feet away from my hole and crank it back in real slow with hopes that a trout will strike at the worm while it is moving along slowly back to the hole. The problem is that the trout will usually see the line and or a reflection from your setup on sunny days.  

This is where I learned the hard way of what NOT to do when ice fishing for rainbow trout.

Use some scent bait in your hole.

I have found over the years that using something with scent is a really good idea for a couple of reasons.

First, the scent will attract some fish to your area.

Second, it will cover up some of that human odor we can be putting out into the water during our ice fishing trip.

Use a small bobber when trout fishing from shore.

I use this bobber for about 75% of my fishing. It makes it easy to keep my line tight which is important, but most importantly it allows me to drop the bobber down right next to my hole in case I get a strike and I can run back with little effort and put that fish right into the net.

Make sure you have some type of chemical ice chisel close by.

There will be times when you will get through a lot of line and find that you are stuck with about 10 feet to go on your bobber line or even closer. It is nice to have a heat source which can melt enough ice for you to pull up the rest of that line without ripping it off completely.  

Bait your hook for the depth you are fishing at and don't let it fall to bottom

If you know that is only about 3 feet of water, make sure your worm is not hanging down by 6-12 inches or more below the bobber. If you have a long line and want to fish close to bottom, cut off the bottom part of your line.  

Don't over extend yourself or get too greedy with the fish.

I have learned that hanging on to a single trout for too long is not really good and can cause you a lot of hardship later on when you are ice fishing for even more fish.

Keep covering your holes.

You will be surprised at how fast you can fish through a bait in seconds if you aren't covering your hole and picking up the line that is left behind. I would say almost 25% of all trout caught by me have resulted from my keeping the tip down next to my hole so I can strike as soon as they hit.

Don't let the fish move away with your hook in its mouth.

This is a biggie for me and something I had to learn the hard way. You need to make sure you don't have slack line when you strike or your trout will take off, rip out some line and you will be left hanging out there like a dummy with the fish circling to eat the worm off your hook.

Try to make sure that you strike when he is about halfway through the run away from your hole with no slack line and it will help reduce the number of lost trout. If it doesn't work, go back in and try again a little later.  Keep trying until something works out.  

Keep moving your tip up in the water column when fishing for trout in deeper holes.

This is a practice that I have learned over the years and it has worked well for me. I will keep my line tight to the bottom when fishing in 2 feet of water or less, but as soon as the depth nears 3-5 feet then I will start lifting my tip up so that it goes about 1 foot down from the ice level.  At that depth there is enough light for the fish to see your bait, but the line won't be reflecting in their eyes so they will come out and hit it usually during the first few minutes of fishing a new hole or one that I have just put some food on.

Have patience and keep working your holes until you figure out what is going on.

There have been times when I was fishing in a new area and was having no luck catching anything, so I started watching what others were doing, or changing up my approach only to find that the fish were there but they weren't biting anymore. If you are having bad luck with your set up, try changing something and then sit there for 20 minutes to see results.

Know how deep the water is where you are fishing at before putting your line in the hole.

Too many times I have watched people put their tip down a foot or two from the hole, only to find out that they just wasted good bait because of having it too far away from the fish.

Make sure you know how to tie a good knot.

To me, this is a big deal because if your knot breaks on you at any time it can be the end of your fishing day. In addition to that, there are many times when things happen and I have had my line break or get cut off from my hook without even feeling it. If your knot breaks or a fish rips it out, then that is just part of the game.  


There are many more tips that I could add to this post, but in the end it all comes down to you knowing yourself and developing your own ice fishing rainbow trout tips here and there.

 It is a lot of work, but well worth it when you can get out on the ice and catch some fish before everyone else gets there.


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