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

Ice Fishing At Night

Ice fishing at night is a special experience.

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

To perform successful ice 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 explain the basics of night ice fishing and give you some tips in the following chapters:



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Can you practice Ice Fishing at Night?

Ice fishing at night has certain benefits.

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. Fish finders could be very useful here.

Just keep in mind that you have to mark your ice fishing holes, especially during 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 bait, make sure it is above the weed.

If you want to try ice fishing at night, 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 night fishing, to have your hands free.

Which Fish Bite at Night in Ice Fishing?

Some fish species are more active at night, and night ice fishing 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

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

Same as crappies, walleyes are very active at night.

Their 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 for trout at night

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 as bait 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

Ice fishing for pike 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 bait 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.

Here are: Best Tips for Ice Fishing At Night

If done right, ice fishing at night will be a great experience. Here are the best tips which will help you catch more fish and stay safe and comfortable.

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 bait choice are right, try to position the bait a little higher. This could significantly change the outcome.

TIP #2: Pay attention to safety

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.

TIP #3: Take variety of lures

Ice fishing can be very demanding, and to be successful, you will have to change lures.

Having a few suitable ones 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 holes

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

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-ups, 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.

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 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 avoid ice fishing at night when the moon is full, however, be prepared to less action and more waiting time.

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 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 ice fishing success a lot!


Ice fishing at night is an activity that many anglers love to do.

For a beginner, it can seem as a great 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.

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