You don’t have to wait until spring to enjoy the outdoors or cast a line. That’s because many parks in the National Wildlife Refuge System are open year-round—to ice fishing.
While it might look complicated, anyone can ice fish, say experts. You don’t have to spend a lot of money to do it, and it’s fun for the whole family. These five destinations within National Wildlife Refuge combine breathtaking scenery with ample angling.
Read on for ideal places and tips for making your first time out easy.
The area was opened to anglers for the first time ever in 2016. Translation: Since the lake’s resident walleye and pike haven’t been pestered year after year, you’re more likely to catch fish here compared with other spots.
Unlike other places that require snowmobiles to reach fishing spots, this refuge is accessible to all vehicles, says fishing guide Jason Lesmeister. “Roads go through the whole park,” he says, “It’s amazing that such incredible wilderness and world-class fishing is so easy for people to get to.”
This park offers access to some of the most renowned waters in the United States: the Upper Mississippi River. Anglers hoping to hook perch, crappie and bluegills through the hole all day need look no further.
Lake Champlain is the premier fishing destination in the Northeast, known for plentiful bass and northern pike. With year-round access and parking, the refuge sits front and center to Gander, Goose, Maquam and Missisquoi Bays.
In the Land of 10,000 Lakes, Tamarac offers ice anglers four to choose from: North Tamarac, Pine, Two Island and Waboose Lakes. So if the fishing is slow on one, there’s another destination just a short drive away.
First Time Ice Fishing? Follow These 4 Tips:
- Stay Safe: Brush up on proper safety procedures before you leave home. Take all precautions, including having rescue gear and confirming that the ice is safe to walk on.
- Dress for the elements: Proper layering starts from inside out, and the key component is a thermal layer that will wick away sweat.
- Get some gear: Besides a rod, you’ll need a hand or power auger to drill holes, a jigging rod to catch panfish, and tip-ups to catch pike, walleye and bass.
- Bait and catch: Trout, perch, crappie and bluegills will eat small grubs fished on tiny jigs. Minnows will catch larger predatory species.
- Get insured: Driving to your destination in your RV or snowmobile? Consider adding RV insurance or snowmobile insurance to your policy. If you’re heading somewhere far flung, consider travel insurance through the GEICO Insurance Agency to protect your trip.
Ready to visit these winter wonderlands? Brush up on your winter driving skills before you hit the road.
By Mark Modoski