Skip to main content

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

Hobie MirageDrive 360 Kayak Propulsion: Amazing Control and Power

Hobie MirageDrive 360 Kayak Propulsion: Amazing Control and Power

The Hobie MirageDrive 360 pedal propulsion system is the pinnacle of kayak control with more efficient fin designs, glide technology and allows the boat to be moved in any direction.

Lake Superior Whitefish on Ice

Lake Superior Whitefish on Ice

Doug Stange joins Capt. Aron Kastern on Lake Superior near Ashland, Wisconsin where they go after whitefish on ice.

The True Story of the Bass Boat Hero Who Broke the Internet

The True Story of the Bass Boat Hero Who Broke the Internet

“If that engine starts without my kill switch on, I ain't the one driving it,” Blake Broussard says after ejection video goes viral.

Channel Cats on Ice

Channel Cats on Ice

The In-Fisherman staff reveals some of the hottest action of the winter season, as they show how to ice 20-pound channel catfish.

See More Popular Videos

Trending Articles

The big discussion is over the legality for the public to wade in or walk alongside rivers.Understanding Riverine Rights Today Catfish

Understanding Riverine Rights Today

Dan Anderson - October 28, 2020

The big discussion is over the legality for the public to wade in or walk alongside rivers.

Do pike under ice cover choose the same types of habitats they use in summer?Pike Movement and Habitat: Summer vs. Winter Pike & Muskie

Pike Movement and Habitat: Summer vs. Winter

Dr. Rob Nuemann

Do pike under ice cover choose the same types of habitats they use in summer?

Bass rigs can be simple or complex, but most have evolved to include multiple variations.Bass Rigs You Need to Be Fishing Bass

Bass Rigs You Need to Be Fishing

Matt Straw

Bass rigs can be simple or complex, but most have evolved to include multiple variations.

Introduced species often directly or indirectly adversely affect native species.Questioning Fish Introductions Other Fish

Questioning Fish Introductions

Dr. Hal Schramm - July 06, 2020

Introduced species often directly or indirectly adversely affect native species.

See More Trending Articles

More Ice Fishing

There are many reasons why light line is right in winter.Light Line Rules the Day Ice Fishing

Light Line Rules the Day

Matt Straw - January 14, 2020

There are many reasons why light line is right in winter.

Keep these simple concepts in mind when looking for active fish beneath the ice5 Secrets To Fine Tune Big Lake Hardwater Walleyes and Perch Ice Fishing

5 Secrets To Fine Tune Big Lake Hardwater Walleyes and Perch

Ross Robertson - January 14, 2021

Keep these simple concepts in mind when looking for active fish beneath the ice

Explore and understand the world beneath the ice like never before.Underwater Drones: Expand Your View Beneath the Ice Ice Fishing

Underwater Drones: Expand Your View Beneath the Ice

Dan Johnson - December 18, 2020

Explore and understand the world beneath the ice like never before.

These fisheries are your best bet for a chance at a whopper-size perch.Best Lakes for Big Perch Ice Fishing

Best Lakes for Big Perch

Steve Ryan - December 08, 2020

These fisheries are your best bet for a chance at a whopper-size perch.

See More Ice Fishing

Magazine Cover

GET THE MAGAZINE Subscribe & Save

Digital Now Included!

SUBSCRIBE NOW

Give a Gift   |   Subscriber Services

PREVIEW THIS MONTH'S ISSUE Arrow

Buy Digital Single Issues

Don't miss an issue.
Buy single digital issue for your phone or tablet.

Buy Single Digital Issue on the In-Fisherman App

Other Magazines

Special Interest Magazines

See All Special Interest Magazines

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

Phone Icon

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