For any beginner in angling, this is a persistent topic before any winter expedition. The new experience of ice fishing at night brings with itself multiple advantages, the biggest being the scarce angler population. With the fish being all yours during nighttime ice fishing, your catch rate will be massive.
To help you make the most of the night bites, we’ve compiled an extensive guide for all you need to know before ice angling and how you can prepare for it.
How to Prepare for Ice Fishing at Night
Most of the night ice fishing preps are to be done before sunset. This will include understanding the area, determining the location, wearing the proper ice fishing float suit, and setting up your gear beforehand so the nighttime experience is hassle-free.
1. Scouting the Area
Firstly, you need to properly scout the area and maybe even test out the waters for a while during the day.
This will help you gain an understanding of the area and you can drill your holes beforehand with a cordless drill. Then at night you can either use the same holes or move to other populated locations.
The best places you can find fish under the frozen lakes are:
- Humps within the lake
- Major points that are popularly known in the area
- Areas with permanent ice houses
- Weed beds near the drop-offs
2. Preparing the Setup Before Sunset
Right before sunset is high time for catching fish. You can utilize this time frame in setting up your gear and make yourself comfortable so you won’t need to stumble around in the dark.
In addition to that, you can fish around before sunset and get a good estimate of the fish population’s whereabouts and then employ relevant techniques throughout the night.
3. Taking Safety Precautions
Ice fishing, in general, is hazardous due to the location’s slippery and unforgiving conditions. Thus, you must take the necessary precautions and prevent certain mishaps from occurring.
Here are a few precautions and items you need to have:
Reflective clothing helps you become visible to other anglers during the night. This ensures that other anglers using snow vehicles like ATVs and snowmobiles don’t hit you accidentally.
Sufficient Light Source
Keep all your light sources charged up and keep battery backs with you as well. From electric lanterns to headlamps, it’s vital to stack up on plenty of lighting equipment to spend the night without any worries.
Electronics like kayak fish finders and flashers prove themselves to be useful during nighttime fishing and constant location changes. While they’re not essential, they do help you in making your catch easily.
4. Preparing for a Cold Night
It goes without saying that the night will be incredibly cold. Stock up on warm knitted clothing and thermals, ice fishing gloves, and try to bring a portable electric heater with you if you happen to face harsher weather conditions.
Understanding the Fish During Night Time Ice Fishing
While nighttime fishing isn’t for most anglers, fish are pretty much the same in this case too. You won’t find an extensive variety of trout and bass. But, the fish present during the night will be worth all the effort.
Types of Fish That Can Be Caught in the Dark
The most common types of fish you can find at night are crappies and walleyes. These fish have better night visions and more attuned lateral lines that help them pick movements and vibrations.
Location of Fish Feeding at Night
By understanding the movement of the fish, you can easily find locations to angle at.
For crappies, they feed over basins and deeper waters during the night; whereas the walleye will be found next to some cover to gain protection and shelter during the night.
This is why we recommend checking the water structure out during daylight hours.
Tips and Tricks for Ice Fishing at Night
Now that we have the basics of night fishing down, here’s our list of tips and tricks that will tremendously increase your catch rate and make your nighttime expedition worth the hassle.
- Glow in the Dark Lure: Perfect for luring nocturnal fish, glow in the dark lures can be detected from great distances and piques the fish’s interest immediately. You’ll need to recharge these lures every 15 minutes.
- Glow Sticks and Glow Lights: Using green glow sticks will work wonders for luring crappies. The light draws the minnow and other smallish upwards which attracts the crappies. You can use this opportunity to your advantage and massive catches.
- Live Bait: Active minnows work great in tempting walleyes. With their jittery movements and the right technique, live baits minnows will help you make big walleye catches all night long.
- Vibrations and Jerking: Fish that are on the hunt at night use their lateral lines to sense movements and vibrations. You can use this fact to your advantage and invest in lake trout lures that send out these vibrations effectively.
- Change Locations Throughout: If you find no luck in one location, then don’t hesitate in moving around the area. Staying in an unproductive spot is a major mistake and you should change your location after 30 minutes if you find no luck there.
- Be Persistent: Night fishing isn’t an easy task let alone night ice fishing. Don’t lose hope if you don’t make big catches in the first hour or so. If you move around and follow through with all the techniques you will certainly make a catch. Remember to give it time.
While night ice fishing is an intimidating task, the expedition itself can prove to be brimmed with massive catches during the night.
The aforementioned tips will surely make the adventure less daunting.
Be sure to take all necessary safety precautions and keep the required gear with you and we can assure you that the nighttime fishing experience will be amazing for you.