Ice Fishing for Lake Trout…

First fishing trip of 2012!

January Ice Fishing

While in many areas of the country the unusually warm winter has put a damper on ice fishing, here at Vermilion Bay Lodge we still have what it takes to enjoy winter….snow, ice and fish!

Conditions for Ice Fishing are good…

Since January 1st we have fished two trout lakes with good success.  On the first lake there was about 16 inches of clear ice.

Holly with the first fish.

Although I caught one trout on a jigging Rapala, it seemed that most of the fish preferred a tube jig and minnow combination.  Depths ranged from 40-80 feet.

Susanne, wind blown snow, & a laker.
Catch from first day out.
Chicken wings and lake trout.

While we didn’t catch any giants, they were all very tasty and fun to catch!

Day 2 of ice fishing…lake “B”

A few days later we were at it again, this time  on a lake that produced a 36 incher for me a few years back.  Conditions were a bit windy and only about 8 inches of ice.

Getting set up for ice fishing
Lake trout caught on a hanging board.

A technique that I haven’t used for a number of years is this “hanging board”.  This particular fish was down about 60 feet in 120 feet of water.  I also lost several that were just below the ice, but for the most part the majority of the trout caught that day were deeper and seemed to like minnows.

The “hanging board”…

Hanging board made from wood.
Hanging board made from wire.

The hanging board is basically an hour glass shaped board (or wire) with braided line wrapped around the center.  A bent piece of metal strapping is attached by a screw on the top and the line is held by friction by the contact of the metal onto the wood.  This tension can be adjusted so the line can be stripped off freely by a fish.  A piece of flagging tape is used to visually signal a strike (although the metal will click as line goes out) as well as mark the depth or amount of line set out.  Some wire holds the whole contraption to a stick that is angled over the hole.  At the end of the braided line I have a swivel and small weight which connects to some monofilament line and a small treble hook tipped with a large minnow.

What are the advantages of the hanging board for ice fishing?

When trout fishing, in particular, you need something that will hold plenty of line.  When a trout hits it will often peel off yards of line.  You need something that will allow this without failing…..this is foolproof.  It’s easy to set the rig to go off with even the most tentative bite.  It’s easy to make, won’t break, and compact.  The best part in my opinion, is when you are ready to pack up.  Generally you are half frozen and dealing with regular tip ups is, how would you say it, a pain in the arse!  These you can work with your gloves on…..simply rotate the metal strapping out of the way and you can wind up the line quickly.  Hook  the treble into the wood and off you go.

Back to ice fishing on Lake “B”

Winter shore lunch.
Nothing like tube steak over an open fire!
Biggest trout is the last fish caught that day!

Post fishing activity…

An "after fishing" snowshoe completes the day.

Susanne and I ended the day by doing the snowshoe loop to burn off some of the tube steak calories.  I’m looking forward to a little more snow that is forecast for this week…….and the cooler temps.

Ice fishing is a great part of winter!



10 thoughts on “Ice Fishing for Lake Trout…

  1. Gord,

    Now that looks like fun! Its 50 degrees here in Wisconsin today. One question about the hanging board. With the hanging board above water and the line running through the hole, I would think it would be prone to freeze ups? With a tipup, the spool is underwater and spools freely. Just curious.


    1. You are correct Andy, there is the chance the hole will freeze up if you are not checking occasionally. However, unless it is really frozen up a laker will generally set the hook on itself by pulling the frozen line free. This issue is minor compared to the hassle of reeling up tip ups at the end of the day, I think. Tip ups work fine in shallow water and on smaller fish. My real preference is to catch all my fish on a jigging rod.

  2. Nothing like tube steak over an open fire! Sounds like a story in it’s self!!!!!
    Now getting to the fishing part, I am filled with envy as I look at those pics bringing back memories of last season. Like Andy stated 50 above zero here in Wisconsin and not the greatest ice around but I am going to find ice one way or another this Saturday. Turning colder Wednesday night and finally some snow on the way which will help in the aid of walking the ice since I don’t need any extra challenges right now. Trout fishing looks fun but I would rather be running for tip ups with northerns/walleye and jigging for JUMBO PERCH.
    As for your invention I think I will stick with tip ups but your idea works on the order of a “TIP DOWN” that is easy to pack up and go. They do make little handles for the tip ups these days Gord which let’s you wrap up twice as fast…. Anyways nice report and look forward to some northern/walleye fishing reports using those hot rigs I sent you.

  3. I was just reading about an angler that was rescued off the shore of Green Bay that was unaware of the fact that the ice he was on had broken and was drifting away. The fire chief reported that this was the second consecutive year that this angler found himself in this predicament. Mark? Kurt? Was that you?

  4. NO NO Andy it was not either one of us… And to boot on that report did you see that this time they are going to make this guy from IL pay for the cost of the rescue?
    Hey Gord I don’t get skunked often when I fish I think maybe once last season during ice fishing was it.

  5. I was just looking at the pics again and was thinking deep fried lake trout I don’t think I have ever tried lake trout deep fried. Going to have to give that a try on one of those smaller ones…

  6. Great looking catch Gord and Suzanne. What size hole are you guys drilling, 8 or 10 inch? And are the minnows fresh or salted. I’m just trying to gear up for hard water fishing and I have never tried lake trout through the ice.

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Thank you very much for making my get a way week so enjoyable. Dan and I had a great time. You and Susanne should be commended on how clean and well maintained your cabins and lodge are. I will recommend you to anyone that is looking to go to Canada fishing and I look forward to the time I can come back.

Jody Hansen

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