Tackle, Tips, Tricks and More

Your guide of what you need to know to ice fish in Sault Ste. Marie

Ice fishing is a true Northern experience like no other. Within just minutes of the city, you can access lakes and rivers by foot, vehicle, or snowmobile that are filled with trout, walleye and northern pike!

This winter sport has evolved over the years and transformed the way people ice fish today. Modern equipment, powerful augers and heated cabins have made things pretty comfortable for anglers. However, this well loved sport is also the most dangerous method of fishing and it's important to follow the proper safety steps, to ensure your day out on the ice is a safe one. Safety should always remain your number one priority.

Ice Fishing Tips, Tricks and Strategy for Ice Fishing

Here are some hopefully helpful tips, tricks and strategies that might improve your ice fishing experience this year and most importantly, keep you safe.

Know How to Treat Hypothermia – Hypothermia is the most common reason for death in ice fishing. Be sure to learn before you head out, about how to treat and handle someone with hypothermia. Someone can die as soon as 20 minutes of being soaked in icy water, time is not on your side. Always have a cell phone charged and ready and if you're out of a service area, have the essentials on hand to get your fellow angler warm and dry and to help as soon as possible.

Know the Depth of the Fish – Most fish will generally stay at a specific depth during the cold winter months, which can make it easier to catch them. Do some simple internet research to find out what depth the species of fish you're trying to catch stay around during the winter months.

Bait – Know what bait is best for the species of fish your out to catch and what action they best respond to. If you're using live bait like minnows, be sure to NOT discard of any unused or dead bait, please take it home with you.

Move Slowly – During the winter months fish slow down to save energy. If you move to fast they may let go, so be sure to move your bait or jig slowly.

Use a Slip Bobber – Use a slip bobber to set the depth of the line, this way you can see when the fish might bite. Fish not only slow down during the winter to save energy, they also tend to be less aggressive than in the warmer months. This will help you catch the big one!

To Cover or Not-to-Cover the Hole – It's helpful if your ice fishing in a shallow area to keep some ice in the hole to keep the light from penetrating the surface. However, some species feed on small plankton that are attracted to the light, so find out what tactic is best for the type of species you're fishing for and good luck!

Chum the Hole – Try dropping some wax worms or a small amount of ground minnows into your fishing hole. Fish can be attracted to other fish feeding, so chumming your hole just might bring some fish over to your location. It's worth a try!

Ice Depth - There are specific recommended depths for both walking and snowmobiling on frozen water. Be sure to check using proper security measures before going too far. Situations can occur on small and large bodies of water where wide spans of ice can break off due to offshore winds and other variables. The recommend depth for walking on frozen water is 4″. It is not recommended that you risk walking on ice that isn't at least that.

button fishing

Check The Ice Conditions Before You Go!

Ontario Ice Fishing Report: Conditions and Species (Updated Every Thursday)

Ice Fishing Tackle and Equipment

Specific equipment and fishing tackle is required for successful ice fishing. A list of basics has been put together below to get you started this year. This is not a complete checklist, but highlights some tackle and equipment you will want to have with you.

Ice Fishing Tackle

  • Have a valid fishing license
  • Bucket (you can also use as a seat)
  • Comfortable seat (or use your bucket)
  • Ice scoop and shovel (scoop to remove slush and ice from the hole and shovel to keep the hole area clean)
  • Warm and durable winter boots (preferably waterproof)
  • Ice auger
  • Ice safety pick and rope (this could come in handy and can save your life in a dangerous situation)
  • Proper ice fishing suit (a flotation or survival suit is recommended)
  • A change of clothing and extra socks (just in case you go into the water or the temperatures drop significantly)
  • Fully charged cell phone (if there's no service where you're heading, be sure to tell someone where you're going)
  • Always inform someone of your destination and when you expect to arrive home
  • Food and water
  • Fishing rod, real and Line
  • Bring along some bobbers
  • Bait - For minnows please do not discard of any unused or dead bait
  • If you are using a fishing hut, be sure to register (only in Fisheries Management Zones 9-12 and 14-20)

Fishing Licenses

Here are the locations in Sault Ste. Marie that sell hunting and fishing licenses, tags and related products and services.

Fishing Derbies

A complete list of 2018 Fishing Derbies!

Additional Resources on Ice Fishing

The rules you need to follow to ice fish in Ontario and how to register or remove your ice hut.

True Northern Outfitting: Your Go To Outdoor Adventure Specialists

Off the Hook: Ice Fishing for Big Trout 15 minutes North of SSM

Ron Zeppa's Gone Ice Fishing: Snowmobile To Ron's Favourite Fishing Spots

Ontario Ice Fishing Report: Conditions and Species (Updated Every Thursday)

Ontario Ice Fishing Hut and Resources Directory

Ice Fishing in Algoma

11 Basic Ice Fishing Tips

If you have any tips, tricks or resource information to add, I would love to hear from you!

There's no shortage of events in the city! Click the button below for a full list!

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About Dionne Elgie

Dionne Elgie grew up in Sault Ste. Marie and has a deep personal love for this city, and like many Saultites, a real passion for the great outdoors. Along with her team at DIG (Digital Intelligence Group)—she works with Tourism Sault Ste. Marie to curate compelling travel stories and collect truly useful tour tips that appeal to both local residents and out-of-town visitors. You can contact Dionne at dionne@digdeep.ca—she’d love to hear from you!

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