Ice Fishing Season Is Here – Are You Ready?
By Toby Trigger

Posted: December 12, 2015

For most anglers Ice Fishing is either viewed as a productive time of hauling in fish or hours of monotony followed up with frozen fingers, numb toes and more boring hours hole staring.  To be successful go as early in the year as ice permits and have the right gear.  Here’s a list of necessary items to ensure ice fishing success:


  • Tip ups/jigging pole
  • Ice Auger
  • Ice Scoop
  • Braded tip-up backing (for easy handling of fish and to prevent frozen spools)
  • Six feet 3-6 lb mono-filament or fluorocarbon line
  • #6 circle hooks
  • Fat night crawlers
  • Hot-cocoa (because it’s cold outside)

Ice fishing tackle is important and having the wrong set-up can make for a long day of boredom on the ice.



  • Use light line
  • Use small hooks
  • Fish 6 feet below the ice
  • Hook the night crawler to allow plenty of wiggle
  • Get to your tip-up fast (run – it’s fun and keep you warm)
  • Let the fish run for a while, pull the tip-up out and then set the hook
  • Drill a new hole near your most productive hole and gang-set it
  • Set up an area for your activity like cooking and chasing your three year olds around
  • Play the fish carefully and tire it out before attempting to pull it up through the hole
  • Drill an 8”-10” hole to make it easier to pull big trout out
  • Keep your holes free from ice



  • Use heavy line (greater than #6 lb is too visible and you’ll get refusals)
  • Use hooks bigger than #4
  • Use sinkers
  • Set up and make a lot of noise around the holes
  • Grab the line while the fish is running hard and yank
  • Try to pull the fish up quickly
  • Drop your ice scoop, ice spud, jigging pole, glasses, or camera in the hole
  • Let the ice and slush build up in the hole and freeze your line
  • Sit in an unproductive spot all day and curse the guys next to you for catching all the fish
  • Set your tip-up so it bounces around and lets the spool touch the edges of the hole
  • Wind the line backwards on the spool

Ice fishing is another great way to enjoy Montana’s public resources and put delicious meat in the freezer. Follow these tips to put fish on the ice and avoid the pit-falls of trial and error. And don’t forget the hotdogs and cocoa especially if you’ve got your kids with you.