Biting this winter

What’s Biting This Winter?

Some of the fish we love to catch are still biting during the winter months, but to see the most success out on the ice it is important to know how some of the most popular fish will change their habits during the winter. These fish are still hungry this winter, and by knowing where to find them and how to lure them in you can see success on the ice.

Yellow Perch

The yellow perch is one of the most common, and most popular fish year round. The biggest can grow over 14 inches long and weigh up to three pounds. You can find them in most lakes and some rivers. During the winter months they gather in large schools and stay at the deepest parts of the lakes, so you will want to use your depth finder to scout those out and drill the holes accordingly.

The best way to catch them is to stay alert. Yellow Perch start by taking small nibbles at the line, you will want a lightweight bobber made from cork, and you need to keep a keen eye on the line for when they start to bite. A short pole with a long line and sinker will take your bait to where the fish like to hang out in the depths, typically around 35 feet. Perch will eat almost anything, but in the winter you should use minnows, ice flies or insect larvae for bait.


Crappies are one of the most popular fish for ice fishers because they are fun to catch and tasty to eat. Just after the lake freezes crappies tend to be near the weedy area of the lake, but by mid-winter you can find them in deep water, in large groups, before they back to the weeds and shallows in late winter.

Jigging is the best technique for catching crappies. You raise the rod tip by a foot, then drop it back down to the starting point after a brief, 5-10 second pause. Alternatively, some anglers will jig the rod 1-2 inches several times in a row. To find the fish start by jigging at the lowest depth and steadily raise your hook up by 1-2 feet until you find their depth. You can use a vertical jig at night and at dawn/dusk and a horizontal jig during the day to avoid scaring the fish.


Muskies are another popular catch for anglers. During the early winter months muskies can be found in shallow waters before they move into middle depths in the colder months and back into shallow spawning grounds in the early spring. Year-round, muskies will stay close to the bottom.

To catch a musky, you can use the same jigging techniques described for the crappies but keep the hook above the bottom of the lake and keep it still for 3-10 seconds because they will only bite after it has stopped moving. Swimming lures and flash spoons are also important for catching muskies.


Yellow Bird Products
1803 Holian Drive
Spring Grove, IL 60081

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