Ice Fishing Rainbow Trout

Ice Fishing Rainbow Trout

Rainbow trout inhabit thousands of natural lakes from Maine to Washington, including the Great Lakes. They also thrive in many reservoirs, where ice-fishing often provides an overlooked opportunity. As cold-water fish, trout thrive under the ice and often prefer to feed in shallow water in winter-just the opposite of their summer preferences. The "reversal principle" allows various species to switch habitats throughout the year, preventing competition for the same forage at the same time. In winter, panfish often go deep while trout move shallow. In summer, they switch place. Ice Fishing Rainbow Trout depends on your ability to identify the areas active fish use during winter.

Ice Fishing Rainbow TroutTackle

Rod: 2- to 3-foot medium-light-power ice rod.


Reel: small-capacity spinning reel.


Line: 4- or 6-pound-test mono.

Rigging

The best bait in natural lakes often is a live mayfly or stonefly nymph. Use light line, thin wire hooks or 1/125- to 1/80-ounce jigs, and a small lead shot 18 inches or so above the bait. Suspend the rig in the top half of the water column, since rainbows usually cruise above the bottom. In the Great Lakes and in larger reservoirs, minnows often are a top bait. Use a #6 Aberdeen hook and small lead shot or a jig in the 1/64- to 1/8-ounce range, depending on depth and size of the bait. Lip-hook or reverse-hook the minnow. Maggots and wax worms also work well on tiny jigs.

Location


One key to trout location in natural lakes is finding the largest shallow flats in the lake, since these areas tend to produce the most food. Bays and shoreline flats with a soft, sandy bottom or a variety of substrates are best for nymphs and larvae. Prime depths are 4 to 8 feet, unless no flats exist at those depths. Trout feed deeper, too, but when they do, it often occurs just past the lip of the first major drop leading to these shallow flats.

Presentation

Mobility often is a negative when fishing for rainbow trout in shallow water, since activity spooks them. Drill all your holes before sunrise. Scatter them over the flat and along the lip of the drop-off where the deepest water approaches closest to the flat. Trout rise from deeper adjacent flats at dawn, feed for several hours (well after noon on cloudy days), then drop back down. They return in the evening, and some continue feeding through the night.


Get Your Fish On.

Plan your next fishing and boating adventure here.

GET THE NEWSLETTER Join the List and Never Miss a Thing.

Recommended Articles

See More Recommendations

Popular Videos

Berkley

Berkley's Frittside Crankbaits

World Fishing Network show host Chad LaChance had a chance to visit with legendary crankbait master David Fritts about his new Frittside crankbaits from Berkley. LaChance, host of the Fishful Thinker on WFN, also got a few cranking tips from Fritts, the former Classic and Forrest Wood Cup champion.

Largemouth Bass: Tricks of Our Trade

Largemouth Bass: Tricks of Our Trade

The In-Fisherman staff reveals insider swimming jig tips and tricks for big bass.

Tactical Changes for Smallmouths

Tactical Changes for Smallmouths

Doug Stange deploys an one unique in-line spinnerbiat option for smallmouths.

Frigid Water Smallmouths

Frigid Water Smallmouths

Doug Stange swims jigs with precision for frigid-water smallmouths.

See More Popular Videos

Trending Articles

Check out this Largemouth Bass Length To Weight Conversion Chart, a simple and accurate explanation from the In-Fisherman biologists. Bass

Largemouth Bass Length To Weight Conversion Chart

Dr. Rob Neumann - January 22, 2017

Check out this Largemouth Bass Length To Weight Conversion Chart, a simple and accurate...

It was an August evening and I was wading the flats in Brewster, MA with my cousin. Here you can Other Fish

Must-Have Striped Bass Tackle

Rick Bach - May 04, 2017

It was an August evening and I was wading the flats in Brewster, MA with my cousin. Here you...

Several methods are available to estimate the weight of a fish. Some use length as well as girth measurements. Biology

Walleye Length To Weight Conversion Chart

Dr. Rob Neumann - January 03, 2017

Several methods are available to estimate the weight of a fish. Some use length as well as...

'Walleyes spawn in spring and understanding spring walleye migrations, whether you live north or south, will help you pinpoint their predictable locations year after year. 

Walleyes spawn in spring, but spring may arrive in February in Mississippi, March in Walleye

Understanding Spring Walleye Migrations

Gord Pyzer - June 02, 2018

'Walleyes spawn in spring and understanding spring walleye migrations, whether you live north...

See More Trending Articles

More Ice Fishing

Several factors affect a fishery's ability to produce generous numbers of giant perch. Ice Fishing

Important Factors for Trophy Perch

Dan Johnson - April 02, 2018

Several factors affect a fishery's ability to produce generous numbers of giant perch.

Tungsten and lead jigs often complement each other. Ice Fishing

Ying and Yang: Tungsten and Lead Jigs

Doug Stange - February 06, 2020

Tungsten and lead jigs often complement each other.

No matter what style you employ – aggressive or subtle, fast or slow – there are titanium-tipped options out there to match it. Ice Fishing

Tips for Titanium Tips

Matt Straw - December 12, 2018

No matter what style you employ – aggressive or subtle, fast or slow – there are...

Sometimes, the best little ice jigs are found off the beaten path. Ice Fishing

Panfish Jigs Under the Radar

Cory Schmidt - February 03, 2017

Sometimes, the best little ice jigs are found off the beaten path.

See More Ice Fishing

GET THE MAGAZINE Subscribe & Save

Digital Now Included!

SUBSCRIBE NOW

Give a Gift   |   Subscriber Services

PREVIEW THIS MONTH'S ISSUE

GET THE NEWSLETTER Join the List and Never Miss a Thing.

Get Digital Access.

All In-Fisherman subscribers now have digital access to their magazine content. This means you have the option to read your magazine on most popular phones and tablets.

To get started, click the link below to visit mymagnow.com and learn how to access your digital magazine.

Get Digital Access

Not a Subscriber?
Subscribe Now