How To Fish Thin Ice   1 comment

Thin Ice

The variety of temperatures and degree of ice available throughout the some 400 miles of Illinois from top to bottom presents a need for caution in winter angling situations. While early ice conditions present danger in some of the northern counties, the fact of little or no ice may be available in the southern counties.

The lowlight conditions of early morning are usually the best ice fishing conditions on most waters. They are especially desirable on Lake Michigan.

The bays and harbors are the safest locations for ice anglers. The main lake generally does not freeze sufficiently to make for safe ice fishing conditions.  The shelf ice formed along the shoreline is very dangerous.

The ice conditions in Illinois portions of the lake can be very dangerous until the thickness of the ice reaches 3 to 4 inches. On sunny days, the piers and docks warm making the ice near them less stable.  Early on in the season, many anglers in the harbors will drill holes adjacent to these manmade structures and fish them by sitting or standing on the structure as opposed to walking on the ice.

In southern Illinois anglers seldom get ice thick enough to walk on. They have adapted the pattern of drilling holes next to piers and docks and standing on the mores stable structure to fish through holes in the ice.  On Power plant lakes and others without ice, the ice fishing jigging techniques produce fish from boats.

Throughout the state early season prospects for trout and panfish are better as the fish seem to like a thin coat of ice over their heads. They tend to suspend in weeds or near wood where the water is slightly warmer.  They usually are about 4 to 6-feet down.

In the Lake Michigan harbors anglers can expect to find rainbow, lake, brown and steelhead trout in harbors such as Burnham, Belmont, and Montrose. Recommended lures include jigging spoons tipped with minnow heads and spawn sacks.  The panfish species available are yellow perch, crappies and bluegill.   Anglers use double rigs with minnows and plastics fished slowly.

In the southern counties the ice anglers is more likely to finds crappie and largemouth bass with an occasional channel catfish.

Anglers from the northern counties often travel into southern Wisconsin harbors at Racine and Kenosha to fish Lake Michigan perch. Access to the harbors is easily available from the Interstate Highways.


One response to “How To Fish Thin Ice

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  1. Pingback: How To Fish Thin Ice | AverageOutdoorsman

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