Skip to main content 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

Popular Videos

Tricky Trailers for Big Bass

Tricky Trailers for Big Bass

Doug is out to show you some tricky trailers the bass can't resist.

Dock Fishing Bass

Dock Fishing Bass

Doug Stange uses big and bold lures to go after largemouth bass around docks.

Bass Catching Techniques

Bass Catching Techniques

Steve Quinn and Joshua Silva are showing some techniques and gear they use to catch bass.

See All Videos

Magazine Cover

GET THE MAGAZINE Subscribe & Save

Digital Now Included!

SUBSCRIBE NOW

Give a Gift   |   Subscriber Services

PREVIEW THIS MONTH'S ISSUE

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.

Get the top In-Fisherman stories delivered right to your inbox.

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