How To Attract Fish When Ice Fishing

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Hey there my fellow fishing enthusiasts who for many of us, fishing is a summer sport. However for others, Ice fishing is a great way to spend time outdoors. And while it can be a bit challenging catching fish through the ice, there are a few things you can do to increase your chances of success.

So with that in mind, welcome to my post discussing the important topic of how to attract fish when ice fishing.


When we fish from a beach and the fish aren’t biting, we can simply move to another gutter or if in the boat, we can move to another spot on the finder. When we are on the ice however, things are a little different and once you have drilled your hole and set up your shelter, it is a little harder to up and move to chase the fish.

So in these trying times (well not really trying as it is still fishing hahaha), it is probably a little easier to attract the fish to you rather than packing everything up and moving to a new spot. So let’s check out some things we can try below…

how to attract fish ice fishing - fish out of ice

1. Try using live bait

First, consider using bait. The reason for this is that in general, bait is smelly so it will attract the fish. There are many different types of bait that can be effective, and it’s important to use something that the fish in your area like to eat.

If you can get something that is alive (and can withstand the freezing temperatures) even better as it will fidget in the water as well. Regardless, just make sure it is something that is found naturally within the body of water that you are fishing in as the fish are more likely to take it.

2. Use bright colours

If you are someone who prefers the use of lures over live bait, then you can try to meet another stimulation option for fish – colour. In general, brighter colors will attract more attention than duller ones. Some manufacturers also incorporate tiny ball bearings etc. within the body of the lure to attract fish in a secondary manner as well.

And whilst we are discussing lures for ice fishing, if the fish aren’t biting you can also try:

  1. Pour or rub some fishing scent onto the lure as well. This allows them to better mimic live bait.
  2. Add a little variety to your lures. Most ice fishers opt for a vertical, teardrop-shaped jig, but some fish, such as crappies and perch tend to bite better on horizontal jigs. So, when the fish stop biting on your vertical jigs, change it up a bit before you move on.
  3. If fishing at night, try a glow lure or even bouncing the lure on the bottom to attract fish.

3. Chum the water

Chumming is the act of adding fish or other food substances into your water to entice more fish. Often referred to as ‘Burleying”, this process attracts fish to your area – much like when you add fish food to a fish tank.

For ice fishing, a good chum mix can consist of such ‘ingredients’ as wax worms, cut up bait fish and corn. The idea is to cut it all up into bite sized pieces (for a fish, not for you) and gradually introduce it to the water. As the fish come in to feed, there is a good chance that one of those little pieces they chew on happens to be attached to your hook.

Do not add too much at once however as if you coat the bottom with food, the fish will gorge themselves and swim off again – you want just enough to keep them hungry and looking for more.

how to attract fish ice fishing - ice fishing shack

4. Cover your hole

This next tip is more about keeping fish in the area than getting them there in the first place. The thing is, once you have followed the steps above to attract the fish to your swimming area, the last thing you want to do is scare them away again. So if you have drilled yourself a nice big hole to drop a couple of lines into, then the light coming in via this gap in the ice can spook fish as well.

So if you know that they are there, but they are staying out of reach of your baits or lures, then maybe try covering the hole with a cloth or piece of plastic etc. so the light levels underneath you are more like the fish are used to. They are then more likely to come in to your bait and feed.

5. Do your research

Finally, as I discussed within my tips for ice fishing post, make sure you’re casting your lure in the right spot. Fish tend to congregate in certain areas so it’s important to do some research and find out where those areas are.

You can usually find this information online or in fishing guides. Once you know where the fish are hiding, then you can be more confident that you are setting up in the right area to start with.


So there you have it, my 5 tips how to attract fish when Ice Fishing. As always, these are not going to guarantee you a catch, however they should give you a little more chance of success that you may not have otherwise had.

Have you tried anything else that has worked well, or not so well for you – or of course have a different opinion than above? If so, please comment below and we can have a chat.

As always

Have fun


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Hi, I'm Paul

I am a passionate fishing, camping and four wheeled driving hobbyist who researches, tests and educates around issues and equipment relevant to them.

I am by no means a professional however my passion is to assist you in making informed decisions about buying and using awesome gear that will give you the best chance of success at whatever you are doing for the best price.

Please get in touch if you have any questions.