By Montana Grant

Posted: March 3, 2022


Most Icemen have caught enough fish through the ice. All are praying for wet water over hard ice. Ice conditions, at this time of the year are also getting sketchy. A few really cold days are followed by some warm days. Layers of snow melt, and ice can get slushy. Water levels change and pressure ridges crack and separate.

Late Winter ice can offer some excellent fishing. If the snow has melted off, lighter through the ice, along with longer days, can get the dormant fish moving. March and early April can be excellent times to fish.

Safety is always a priority. Never go onto sketchy ice. Make sure that you have the gear needed to survive a breakthrough. Floating bibs and parkas, ice picks, a safety throw rope, and a plan to get out of the water if you must. 

Most of the anglers that I have known to break through were within 20 yards of the shore. Edge ice tends to melt faster than middle of the lake ice. Many of these breakthroughs were in water shallow enough to stand up. None the less a couple of these friends nearly froze when trying to get back to the truck.

Many fish are Spring spawners. March and April can be when these fish begin to school or stage for a spawning migration. Yellow perch are a good example. Most perch that I catch through the ice are females with roe. When the males show up, the spawn is beginning. Spawning will occur in shallow, not deep waters. Look for inner bays and areas with vegetation. Perch eggs need debris and structure for their skeins of eggs to attach to.

Pike and walleyes are also heading into shallower water. Bays and weeds are prime hot spots. They enjoy melting tributaries. Bright colored and flashy jigs/lures will often stimulate a strike.

Big fish eat little fish so when most fish are near shore, the bigger predators will follow. Trout will often patrol shallow shorelines looking for minnows. I also enjoy fishing a lake when the ice is melting off and floats of the shore, within a casting distance. I plop my rig onto the ice and slowly drag it off the edge. Bites come quick and often. If the angle is right, you may be able to cast from the shore along a long ice edge.

The Last Stand can be the best!

Montana Grant