Ice fishing has its adventure that fills your long winter joys and excitement. It gets more challenging when it’s time to think about late-season ice fishing.
The weather is nice and sunny, and fish bite well in the late season. The wind is calm, and the sun starts shining more. Usually, the late season can extend from March to April.
The late-season does not mean there will be no ice. You are still in the last ice cycle, where most fish wait for spring. These times, fish go into a feeding mood, so do not miss any chance.
Late Season Ice Fishing Tips
1. Change the Fishing Spot
Late winter means fish are ready to spawn, or they start preparing. So they won’t be heading to the same spot that you fish the whole winter.
At this time, healthy weed areas or bottom are not suitable for finding fish, so old drilled holes are not adequate. Search for their spawning and feeding areas because average fish are hungry and active before spawning.
Fish like walleye, crappie, bluegill, northern pike, etc., love to eat when traveling. That is why change the fishing spot, and you will get a good number of fish.
2. Pick the Best Time
The best time for late-season ice fishing is early in the morning and late in the day. Also, they bite well all day long. Some lake has mid-day fishing zone that you can find if you check previous fishing report. Yet, early and late bites are most productive. Choose a mid-day when the light is low, especially on clear water.
3. Keep Moving Overnight
One of the downsides of late-season ice fishing is that you have to change fishing spots repeatedly until you find fish. In this case, sonar is effective. Keep an eye on their activity, try different depths, search for a different structure. Do not spend much time in one area. That’s the key to late ice fishing.
4. Try Different Baits for Walleye Fishing
Do not use the same bait you have used the whole winter. Fishes are already aware of it. Go for different colors and different sizes. Use a bait that does not work all year. Use larger jigs with bigger bait.
Fish like panfish or crappie are aggressive in the late season, so use large tungsten panfish jigs or jigging spoons. First, try larger to see what happens; reduce the size if they don’t bite. Do not forget about using the minnows or a minnow head.
Use a few primary colors like color combinations for panfish, ultra-vibrant colors like orange, white for crappie, darker colors like green and purple for bluegill, etc. switch the color until they bite.
Try to cast different water columns. Tungsten baits are good in deep water. The bait presentation should be good even when you are in shallow water.
5. Stay Safe for Late Season Ice Fishing
The first thing you should do is check the ice chart. Before planning for fishing, gauge the ice condition. Different lakes and ponds have different ice conditions, so do not go anyplace in hurry. The ice should be a minimum of 4 inches thick for walking safely.
6. Check the Fish Population
Before going fishing, check the fish population in the lake. Visit the local DNR website. Check the lake map to find flat areas as fish tend to go shallower water in late ice. Smaller lakes are better for finding fish. Look for green weeds and make lots of holes.
How Late in the Year Can You Ice Fish?
The exact dates depend on the weather condition. The late ice fishing season starts in December and ends in March in most states. Sometimes the season ends in late February or mid-April.
Can You Ice Fish at Night
ice fishing at night gives you a breathtaking experience because fish actives the most at that time so the success rate is higher. You can feel the quiet surroundings. Make a proper fishing plan to succeed in your night journey. You will get more time than days and have fewer competitors. Arrive at the fishing spot during the daytime to arrange things properly. Make a couple of fishing holes before sundown and try a big spoon in the hole. If you get the right spot, mark it because the spot will work after dark too.