Tips for Ice Fishing at Night: 11 BEST Tricks of All Time!

Ice Fishing At Night

Experiencing fishing at night in icy conditions is unique.

Not just because some fish species become very active, it is because of the vast, dark and quiet surroundings too.

To perform successful night fishing at night, you will have to adjust your technique a bit, because it can be different than ice fishing during day.

But the most important thing about ice fishing at night is that you will have to be extra cautious and be aware of all the possible dangers related to it.

Here I will lay out the fundamentals of nocturnal angling on frozen waters and provide some helpful tips in the subsequent sections. So, keep on reading ...



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Can You Practice Ice Fishing at Night?

Fishing on ice during the night has certain advantages.

First of all, during winter, nights are much longer than days, so fishing at night will enable you more time for fishing.

Additionally, many people leave before dark, so you will have less competition, and your bait will stand out.

During night, you will have less options when it comes to fish species, but some will actually be more active at night (more about this in the following chapter).

To successfully fish at night, you will have to locate the fish. And the easiest way to do so is to arrive during daytime.

Usually, fish have a certain habitat they prefer to spend time in, and that behaviour stays the same during night.

So, if a location is good during day, it will be good during night too. Finding those locations during the day is easier and safer. When the night comes, you will have everything ready. Use a fish finder - they could be very useful here.

Always remember to mark the ice holes where you've drilled for fishing, particularly when it's dark.

Many species can frequently be found where the deep area stands close to the shallow, and that drop-off is steep. If that area is also a place where underwater weeds stopped growing and deeper part has some underwater structures, rest assured that at least a few hungry fish are going to be there.

A lot of species will swim around in shoals, so when you find one, you found them all.

You can also take advantage of permanent holes made by other anglers and fish nearby.

Fishing over weedy area, where the body of water becomes narrow, can also be successful, but only if the water is not too shallow. When positioning your lure, make sure it is above the weed.

If you want to try night ice fishing, be well prepared, bring the same equipment as you would during the day and make sure you have 2 flashlights, one main one and a spare one. A headlamp is very useful for nighttime fishing, to have your hands free. Buy only the best fishing headlamp ...

Which Fish Bite at Night Ice Fishing? [Crappie, Walleye, Trout, Pike, etc.?]

Some fishes are more active at night, and night fishing under ice is the best way to catch them.

Some other species can be caught at night under certain conditions. Here is a list of them:

Ice Fishing for Crappie at Night [Do They Bite?]

Crappies will feed during night, and they will swim around to feed on zooplankton, and possibly a bit bigger creatures they run into.

To get them to bite your bait, you will have to use smaller to medium size highly visible lures ... 

Glowing jigs are the best choice.

If you want, you can ty using underwater green light to attract crappies. In shallower water, this light will attract planktons and small fish on which crappies naturally feed.

In locations where live bait is allowed, some anglers like to use minnows or suckers hooked behind a dorsal fin. Those can also be combined with artificial lures to increase visibility.

Ice fishing for crappie at night is great for beginners too, because crappies and walleyes are the easiest to catch in those conditions.

Ice Fishing for Walleye at Night [Do They Bite?]

Same as crappies, walleyes are very active at night. So, walleye fishing under ice can be very GOOD!

Their night vision enables them to see the prey before prey can spot them.

You can choose similar lures as you would for crappie, and those are highly visible ones. Rattle spoons are a great option too.

When it comes to jigging technique, you should make shorter moves with your wrist, to create more vibration and less erratic movement. Those vibrations will attract fish at night because they can feel it from a distance.

Ice fishing for walleye at night can be very productive and even better than during daytime. Here you can learn more about How to Jig for Walleye Ice fishing ...

Ice Fishing at Night - Walleye

Ice Fishing for Trout at Night [Do They Bite?]

Trout are much harder to catch.

When ice fishing for trout at night, anglers most commonly catch rainbow trout. To catch them, you will have to combine highly visible lures and a waxworm. Flasher lures can come in handy.

You will find them in flat, shallower areas with soft bottom. In these places they can find their natural food like crayfish and worms.

That is a reason a waxworm should be used to attract trout.

Jigging is the way to go, just make sure you are not overworking your lure. Trout is slower and erratic movement may turn the fish a way. Move the lure a few times than stop for a few seconds. Be slow and gentle.

Unlike walleyes or crappies, trout will be slow at night, so fishing will require a lot of patience and waiting time.

Ice Fishing for Pike at Night [Do They Bite?]

Pike fishing under ice at night can be productive, but mostly after sunset and before sunrise, and not in the middle of the night.

A lot of anglers like to set up traps with flags, position at least 2 rods (if that is allowed) and wait for a bite. It would be good to use live baits too.

If you prefer jigging, chose spoons and spinners that make a lot of noise and vibrations. Soft plastic jigs are also an option, especially if spiced up with pieces of bait like minnows.

Avoid glowing lures and use those which reflect light, made of shiny silver or gold metals. Find weedy areas where pike tends to be.

Other species that can sometimes be caught at night are catfish, bass (rarely) and muskies.

Targeting those at night is hard and you should concentrate on those which are easier to get, especially if you are a beginner.

Ice Fishing at Night - Pike

Ice Fishing for Perch at Night [Do They Bite?]

Catching perch at night on a frozen water can be an exciting and rewarding experience for winter anglers.

During the winter months, this fish often gather in schools under the frozen surface, making them a prime target for ice fishermen. But do they bite at night? The answer is yes!

They are known to be active feeders during nighttime hours. They use their keen senses to locate prey and will readily take baited hooks or lures. To increase your chances of success, it's important to use proper type of lure like small jigs or jigging spoons that mimic their natural prey.

And remember to equip your winter angling place with adequate lighting to lure and spot these aggressive nibblers.

So, gear up and head out to the frozen lake for some thrilling fishing experience!

Here are: Best Tips and Tricks for Ice Fishing At Night

If done right, nighttime fishing on ice will be a great experience.

These are the top tips for winter angling that will assist you in catching more fish and ensuring your safety and comfort.

TIP #1: Fish Higher

At night time, a lot of fish species, especially crappie, like to swim higher in the water column. If you are not having success and the location and lure choice are right, try to position the bait a little higher. This could significantly change the outcome.

TIP #2: Pay Attention to Safety Precautions

Ice fishing can be dangerous! So, check the ice thickness, bring plenty of food and water and do everything you would during daytime.

Always bring a friend, because at night, there is a chance you will be the only angler there, despite the fact many people come during day.

If the location is busy, get a small bicycle light and have it on you, or wear reflective clothes, to avoid being hit by a snowmobile or ATV. The same goes for your tip ups. Mark them with a reflective tape to warn the drivers. Always check a weather forecast for the night. You do not want to end up in a snowstorm. Do ALL what you can for ice fishing safety!

Ice Fishing at Night - Safety

TIP #3: Take Variety of Lures

The sport of fishing on frozen lakes can be quite challenging, and to be successful, you will need to switch lures.

Having a few suitable ones (like glow in the dark lures) is absolutely necessary. When the fish won’t bite, change the lure and try again.

Add small pieces of fresh bait, like pieces of minnows or worms on your hooks. In addition to the highly visible lure, natural bait will add irresistible smell and taste to it.

TIP #4: Drill Multiple Ice Holes

Active species, like walleyes or crappies, swim around at night.

With good auger drill multiple holes, some in lines with enough distance in between, and some in zig-zag pattern. Changing position is mandatory and you will need at least 10-15 holes. You should control the situation, not just sit and wait to get lucky.

TIP #5: Eliminate Outside Light

While some anglers say that fish like pike like bright nights, dark is a better option, especially for walleyes and crappies.

Buy a headlamp with red light and when you set everything up, use the red light to fish.

Turn off other light sources because it could spook the fish.

Highly visible lure is enough to attract them. If you need more light, or you are uncomfortable being in the dark, use green lights.

TIP #6: Adjust Your Tip-Ups

Using various tools and methods can help you catch more fish and cover more water. Ice angers often use ice fishing tip-ups and tip-downs.

Although both are used for the same purpose, they operate in a different way. Ice fishing tip-ups have flags that stand up when bites occur, but how will you see it at night?

Buy small bells and attach them to the tip-up, so you can hear the action, instead of having to pay attention to the flag.

While you wait, you can try jigging on a nearby ice fishing hole.

Another option is to add LED lights to the flags. The light will pop up and inform you about bites.

The same goes for ice fishing tip downs. When the fish bites, rod tip will move downwards. This is even harder to notice in the dark than the flag. You can attach a small led light on top if it, just make sure it is extremely light, as these devices use weight and balance for indication. Heavy lights could cause them to tip down for no reason. This motion can be quite gentle, so bells are not as efficient as lights.

Ice Fishing at Night - Tip-Up

TIP #7: Invest in a Portable Tent

Nights on ice can be extremely cold, especially if the night is windy.

Invest in a simple, small, portable tent (shelter) to protect you from the elements. When you change locations, take the tent with you.

It will also protect your ice fishing holes from freezing. Make sure you mark the tent with a light or a reflective material from outside.

TIP #8: Avoid Full Moon

Many anglers agree on this one ...

The night of full moon will usually have less bites and time between bites will be longer. Few days before and after full moon can be good.

This doesn't mean you should skip the fishing by night when the moon is full, however, be ready for less action and more waiting time.

Ice Fishing at Night - Full moon

TIP #9: Set Up Early

Setting up during daylight is easier, but that is not the only reason. Drilling holes and setting up equipment can spook the fish.

So, if you come early, they will have a chance to recover and come back before night-time. Additionally, you will be able to fish through the “golden-hour”.

Fishing 30 minutes before and after sunset can be very productive because many fish will become active and start moving towards their feeding locations.

TIP #10: Think About Your Comfort

The only way to fish successfully is to be aware of your surroundings, to be concentrated and alert.

During night, especially after midnight, many people feel sleepy and slow.

Bring a coffee or an energy drink.

Make sure you are well dressed in multiple layers and have a comfortable chair.

When you start feeling sleepy, have something to eat and make yourself move a bit.

If you are sleepy, that means that you haven’t seen any fish action in a while, so this could be the right time to change locations. Besides, falling asleep in outside in cold can be dangerous.

TIP #11: Use Suitable Lines

Not all fishing tackle and fishing lines are created the same, and those who compared ice fishing line vs regular line will know.

When fishing under ice, your bait will be presented in a different way than while fishing in open waters. Fish will have time to observe and inspect it, and everything will go much slower.

Many anglers are wondering why aren’t they getting any bites, and the reason is that fish can see that something is wrong.

Regular lines are visible under ice, and although you can use them, you will soon notice that they don’t work as you would like them to.

Besides that, ice fishing lines are resistant to freezing and have properties that make them perform excellent in low temperatures.

A simple thing like changing the line could increase your success a lot!

Ice Fishing at Night - Line


Many anglers adore the thrill of fishing in icy conditions at night, which for a novice, can feel like an exciting adventure...

To be successful you have to get the know the area and the fish species. Choose your equipment, lures and technique accordingly and feel free to experiment.

All waters are different and fish behaviour can slightly vary. Use the tips stated here into your advantage and adjust them to the specific situation.

And don’t forget to check the local rules and regulations about allowed bait, number of rods, size of the fish you can keep and periods of closed season. Practicing catch and release ensures healthy fish population year after year. Keep only the fish you plant to eat.

About Me

Slo-fishing - About Us


I am Siniša Pintar (friends call me Sina), the guy behind and eBook writer. This site is base camp for fishing enthusiasts from all over the world. I love fishing and want to share all my stories, knowledge and my experience with any and all potential anglers. Read more ...

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