Spring Walleye Fishing | Targeting Big Pre-Spawn Walleyes

One of the biggest events of the entire ice and open water season is the transitional movements of big pre-spawn walleyes. These fish are highly targeted by millions of anglers for their difficulty to catch, their fight, but most of all their table fare. 

Walleyes are one of the most sought-after fish in the country, for good reason. The pre-spawn period presents anglers with high quantities and quality of fish funneling through small areas. This time of year also presents anglers with the opportunity to catch their biggest fish of the entire year. The larger females move into shallower water and are full of energy and eggs. The bigger the female the more eggs she carries, which can create some absolute giant fish. 

However, it can also be a very stressful time of year if you don’t know the areas and the baits to use to target these fish. I will go into detail on the time of year to start looking for pre-spawn fish, where they are going to be moving and staging up, the baits to use to give you the best success, and how to avoid/work through the crowds of people.

Spring Walleye Fishing: Pre-Spawn Time of Year and Location

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Photo Credit: In-Fisherman

The term pre-spawn has been used to describe anytime in a fish’s life from the winter period, to when the fish actually spawn out. The time period in which these fish begin to transition from their deep winter haunts to beginning their annual journey to which they will propagate the next generation begins around early February. 

Walleyes will begin to journey from their traditional feeding areas and deep winter holes to where they will spawn. This begs the question, where do walleyes spawn? The answer to this question has two parts because not all of the fish spawn in the same areas. The majority of the fish will spawn in the larger rivers that lead into your body of water. While a smaller subset of the population will spawn on rocky shoals in shallower water in the lake. These fish need the proper gravel, depth, oxygenated water, and sunline on the eggs in order for them to be as successful as possible. So, the areas in which these fish spawn are going to be different for every body of water. You need to look at maps to find the areas which have everything these fish need and then scout them out. Not every creek and gravel shoal will have fish, so it’s important to put the time on the water to really find out the hot spots.

The issue is that most walleye seasons go out during the spawn. So, how are you supposed to find the areas in which these fish spawn? Great point, you need to fish the areas outside of these possible spawning locations to see if they gather here or not. There are going to be early fish to the spawning areas and late spawning fish, they don’t all come in one wave. This means you can catch fish moving to spawn before and after the season goes out. Another good trick to use, look for large numbers of fishermen around small areas. This can be a dead giveaway for spawning areas. The trick is to figure out how to beat the crowds at their own game.

Spring Walleye Fishing: Walleye Movements

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Photo Credit: Angling Buzz

So, how do these fish move from their wintering areas to where they are going to spawn? It is by no means a one-way hell-bent trip in which they don’t stop. These fish are going to move methodically from one ambush area to the next until they reach their staging area outside the creek or in the deep access water near the shoals they plan to spawn on. 

All you need to do to intercept them is find your favorite hot spots from early-mid ice season and then look at there they are going to go. It will become very easy to determine where they are going to stop on the way. Look for the same type of humps, drop-offs, points, bends in river channels, and rocky areas that they would normally use during their normal routine feeding. 

These are going to be the areas that these fish stop on to refuel while they are on their journey. Think of it like when you’re going on a road trip. You need to stop to get gas at certain periods in the trip, thus you go to gas stations. Ambush points act as gas stations for these fish and they need to feed up in order to make the journey and spawn. The entire act of spawning is a stressful point in a fish’s life; thus, they need to feed up in order to survive the ordeal. You just need to get your baits in the right areas in order to capitalize on this bite.

Spring Walleye Fishing: Baits

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Photo Credit: Angling Buzz

The biggest thing people get caught up in is what baits to throw. In all reality, if you plan everything else out to perfection it almost doesn’t matter as much what you throw as to just being in the right area. 

However, it can be the difference between an ok day to being a phenomenal day. 

It does depend on a few things though as to what baits you use. Factors such as weather conditions, time of day, fishing pressure, whether you’re on ice or fishing open water, and water conditions. These all play a big factor in what you’re going to throw in their faces.

Spring Walleye Fishing: Fishing on Late Ice

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Photo Credit: Outdoor News

If you are on the ice you are going to be stuck using vertical presentations, and there is nothing wrong with that. For pre-spawn though, I like to start off with more in your face and attraction baits such as a Rapala Rippin Raps

Why would you use finesse baits for fish that will come in and eat a bigger meal more readily?

 This way you can cover water faster and potentially put more fish on the ice in a faster fashion. I will also use VMC rattle spoons and Rapala Jigging Raps as well to try and drum up the more aggressive fish. It always a good idea to check to see how aggressive the fish are before you downsize and start finessing the fish. My thought process is Why use small baits when you don’t have to?

The next step is harder, however. When you draw fish in, and you will, now you have to try and read their level of interest and adjust baits accordingly. If the fish come in and stay low and don’t make any kind of run at the bait, then you are too aggressive and you need to switch to something that is a little less aggressive. I like to go to a Tingler spoon at that point, or a jigging rap or something with less sound. I will work all the way down to a jig and a minnow if I have to. 

The test being you have to read the fish. That is a huge key, reading the fish. If they make a run or follow it up at least once then you’re on the right track and now you have to play with size and color. Going to something in a duller or brighter color, depending on what you started with. It really depends on what baits you already have confidence in on the water. These are just baits that I have had and seen a lot of success with. There are thousands upon thousands of baits out there that no doubt all catch fish. So, it’s up to you to experiment with the companies you like and use the baits you like. The general guidelines for switching during these situations remain the same however. You need to just feel the mood of the fish and adjust accordingly. Always assume that there is always a better way to catch them then how you currently are. This will keep you always on your toes and always thinking about what to try.

Some of my other favorite in your face baits include a Rapala slab rap, a Rapala jigging shad rap, and a Silver Streak blade bait. These baits, including the other baits listed above, are going to be my go-to baits for when I first show up to a body of water. After I strike out with these baits then I am going to go to more of a finesse approach. That is when I will break out a VMC tumbler spoon and a VMC flash champ, along with the others listed above. These baits will be my staples when it gets technical and the fish are being finicky.

Spring Walleye Fishing: Open Water

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Photo Credit: My Outdoor TV

The beauty of open water is that you can cover a lot more water in a lot shorter amount of time. This will allow you to locate fish in a faster time frame, in general. When it comes to open water baits there are two approaches, you can either troll baits or you can cast and retrieve. It really depends on the size of the area you are targeting. 

Trolling is a way to cover vast amounts of water using a variety of different crankbaits, worm harnesses, spoons, etc. Trolling can also be used as a method to simply locate groups of fish and then you can go back through and work them over with casting baits. During the pre-spawn period, however, the water is still around that 40-degree Fahrenheit mark. This means the fish activity is still going slow, as far as their willingness to chase down baits. I generally prefer casting for these fish because you can present slower but reactive baits that trigger these fish into eating. However, a slow trolled bait can still produce good numbers of fish.

Spring Walleye Fishing: Casting

So, for casting baits I have a general few that I go off of. The categories that I like to throw include plastics, crankbaits, lipless crankbaits, blade baits, jerkbaits, hair jigs, swimbaits, and live bait. As you can see there is a large variety of different baits that you can throw. It really just comes down to the action that the fish prefer and what the body of water allows you to throw. 

I look at the area that I am fishing before I decide what I am going to throw. If it is full of brush and stumps then oftentimes, I will lean more toward a jig with a soft plastics trailer such as a worm, a swimbait, or a live minnow. Something that I can work slowly over and around the cover with lower risk of getting hung up. A slow retrieved crankbait or a jerkbait is also a good option to tick the tops of the wood or suspend just over the wood. I want something that I can pop off or deflect off the wood to trigger a reaction out of these fish. 

A few of my personal favorite casting crankbaits include an original floating Rapala, a BX minnow, and a shad rap, an x-rap, a shadow rap, Rapala flat rap, and a Rapala tail dancer. Those baits are going to cover every casting scenario that I am going to run into. These baits are also made of balsa which will allow you to get your bait unstick from rocks, brush, etc. easier.

The idea behind casting these baits is to cover water and imitate whatever baitfish the walleyes in your lake are feeding on. 

You can never go wrong with perch colored baits, or a generic shad colored bait. These forage species are going to be in almost every body of water you are going to come across. To retrieve these baits, you are going to start with a steady retrieve and see how the fish react to that and then depending on the results you are going to mix it up and start adding stops and pumps into the bait. This will act as a triggering method if any fish follow or track your bait as you are retrieving them.

If I am fishing something with a sandy and rocky bottom then I am going to lean more toward a blade bait, a lipless crankbait. I need to use the action of the bait in order to trigger these fish into eating. Since the bottom is fairly clean, I depend upon the bait to draw the fish in and close the deal. This is where I really play with the cadence I use when retrieving these baits. I use both blade baits and lipless crankbaits as a bait that I jig off the bottom. I will not steady retrieve these this time of year. I will simply hop them along the bottom, while varying the length of the hop and the speed of the hop. Generally, you will find a specific speed and type of hop that these fish key in on. My favorite go-to casting baits for this type of scenario are going to be a Rapala Rippin Rap, a Rapala Jigging Rap, and a Steel shad blade bait

As far as a swimbait, a hair jig, and a minnow on a jig head are concerned I really use these to cover water and try to locate groups of fish. All of your time on the water is precious, so using faster search baits to really try to locate fish and eliminate water can help you spend more time putting fish in the net.

Spring Walleye Fishing: Trolling

Trolling is going to be a different animal altogether when it comes to pre-spawn. Since the water temps are so cold, it is going to be hard to get these fish to chase a bait unless you put it right in their faces. It is also really going to depend on the bodies of water you are fishing. If you are fishing lakes such as Lake Erie, then trolling is going to be the most effective way to catch fish and cover water. 

This can also be an extremely effective tool in larger river systems, to cover break edges of the river channel. 

However, if you are fishing smaller bodies of water that have smaller populations of fish, then casting baits are going to be a better choice. Bait selection and trolling speed are going to be critical no matter whether you are in a river system or a large body of water. The fish are going to be up in shallower water, so your trolling gear is going to be relatively very simple. Longlining crankbaits and crawler harnesses are going to be the most efficient approach as far as covering water while being able to fish slow. Nightcrawler harnesses are always a good option because they can be fished as slow as the user wishes, which is ideal for targeting sluggish fish. The choice of crankbait is going to depend on the water depth you are trying to target. If you are on Lake Erie then you are going to be fishing deeper than if you are fishing a small local lake or a shallow river system. 

It is all about finding those travel routes that were discussed above and using your search baits to effectively and efficiently cover water.

There are thousands of different crankbaits on the market today and all of them will catch fish, given the right conditions. So what crankbaits are going to work best for the prespawn? 

I like crankbaits that have a tight action, this imitates that action of the baitfish during the colder months. I also like running baits that dive deeper than the water I am fishing, when fishing 15-feet or less. This will allow you to slow your presentation down and really get a reaction out of those fish. 

A few of my favorite baits to troll this time of year are going to be Rapala Tail dancer, Rapala Shad Rap, Bandit Generator Walleye Deep Diver, Strike King Walleye Elite Bonzai Shad, Storm Deep Thunderstick Madflash, Storm Thunderstick Madflash, Bandit Walleye Shallow Diver, Bandit Walleye Deep Diver. These are a few good starter baits that will also cover you as far as hard bait are concerned. 

For worm harnesses, I like a couple of different types. If the water has good visibility, 3 or 4 feet minimum, then I like a Dutch Fork Stainless Steel Willow Leaf Blade Harness. If the water has more stain to it then I’m going to go with a Dutch Fork Stainless Steel Colorado Blade Harness. The Colorado blade is going to provide more water displacement and more thump to attract these fish from more of a distance. I also really like the Mack’s Smile Blade Double Whammy Walleye Rig for doing more drift fishing or slower trolling. This bait has a better action at slower speeds.

As with anything, you’re going to need to experiment with baits, depths, the amount of line you have out, colors, etc. In order to figure out the best combo for the fish during the time of day you are fishing. You might run one of each of the baits listed or you may end up running all of the same lure. It is just going to depend on what you are getting bit on and what depths you are fishing.

Spring Walleye Fishing: Bait Color Choices for Trolling

There is no shortage of different color patterns on the market these days. You could literally spend thousands on one bait by getting every color they make it in. So, what colors are going to give you the best chances of success? As a general rule of thumb, you want to match the conditions outside to the color of your bait. So, on cloudy days you want to throw darker more drab colors and on bright sunny days you are going to want to throw brighter baits. This is going to match what the forage looks like during these different weather conditions.

Color choices are also going to vary depending on the depths of water you are fishing. In shallower water, the colors that are going to show up the best are going to be your pinks, oranges, and your yellows. As you get down deeper your colors are going to want to switch more toward your reds, chartreuse, blues, purples, and your blacks. These colors stand out better at deeper depths. As with anything else though I encourage you to play with different color combinations to see what works best for you. 

Spring Walleye Fishing: Dealing with Crowds

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Photo Credit

The worst part of pre-spawn walleye fishing is the crowds. There is a large number of anglers that will go out and simply look for crowds of people and go fit right in assuming they are on fish. I like to be that one guy way away from everyone that leaves everyone guessing if I’m catching fish or not.

The number one way to be able to beat crowds is to truly know the area you are fishing. I mean knowing all the contour changes, the bottom composition changes, little irregularities on flats, etc. This will ensure you are always on the primary “spot on the spot”. You will be that one guy smashing fish while everyone 20 yards from you is left without a bite. This requires time on the water though. Hours and hours of scouting go into having a really good idea of what the bottom looks like. If you are ice fishing that can mean using an underwater camera, visibility permitting, and using this to look for rock piles and distinct and subtle edges. When there is open water it can also mean using your graphs and side imaging to make laps around these areas in preparation for the long winter months. 

It all depends on the amount of time you are willing to put into the game, just like any other sport.

The next best way to outsmart the crowd is to be the guy who is not afraid to move and change things up. Most anglers have a bait tied on that will be tied on from the time they get there to the time they leave. They will work it the exact same way all day and night. You need to be willing to switch up how you are working your baits, what baits you are throwing, and where you are fishing. If you are fishing areas that have large flats that have big crowds of people, Lake Erie for example, then you can use this to your advantage and place yourself on the outside of the group. Moving slightly away from everyone will help you get on top of the fish that avoid all of the commotion brought on by the other anglers. Fish aren’t as dumb as we think they are, however they aren’t as smart either. They aren’t going to do some drastic moves, they are simply going to slide around all the noise and commotion. This will set you up nicely for all the fish moving through.  

As far as baits and how you work them, this goes back to what I talked about earlier in being able to read the fish’s level of interest. Most of the time in a crowd I like to go either really small and bland or really big and bright. This will make your bait stand out from the droves of other baits in the water. Experiment with the action, the color, and the size until you find something that seems to fit the bill.

Spring Walleye Fishing: Understanding Movements Related to Weather

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Photo Credit: Great Lake Snow

One of the biggest overlooked aspects of targeting specific species of fish during different times of the year is the weather patterns and how they affect the specific species that you are targeting. During the pre-spawn period, with any species of fish, the weather patterns can really control what the fish do in major ways. 

Some of you may say, but my fish are under ice, how is the weather above going to influence the fish? 

Even under feet of ice the fish can still see changes in light and adjust to the different light periods. This is why morning and evening bites are still hot. So, the first thing to look at is the weather pattern. On cloudy days, the primary bite window is going to be drawn out even longer than it normally would be due to the reduced light from the cloud cover. On clear sunny days, the primary bite windows are going to be the shortest due to the increased light. So, fish are going to be more active on days with a lot of cloud cover, meaning they will be moving in the shallow areas more. This is especially true for the pre-spawn period.

If you have open water situations, then the word everyone hates comes into play, wind. Personally, I love wind. It can create some of the greatest bites you’ll ever see, while also making you wish you never went fishing. 

So, what does the wind do? The wind breaks up the surface tension on the water and creates a scenario in which the fish cannot get a great look at your bait. It also moves the surface water around and creates current. This current moves the small micro-organisms around, which then get followed by the baitfish. This current also creates current breaks in which fish will stack up. Either way you look at it, it can create some great scenarios in which to load the boat fast. 

So, what do you need to know about wind for pre-spawn? 

Wind can push the warmest surface water away from where it is supposed to be. This will stack up warmer water in smaller coves or along windblown banks. It may only be two or three degrees but that two or three degrees will attract those fish like flies to a light. The first thing I look at when looking for prespawn walleyes, other than where they are going, is what way the wind is blowing. That will be the first area that I will check for signs of life.  

The next thing to look at is the different moon phases. The greater the light during the night period, the more active the fish are going to be. This means fish are going to have the most nocturnal activity during full moon phases. This creates large waves of fish that move up shallow during the pre-spawn period. 

So, if you have limited days to fish it can be important to look at this information in order to try and have the most success possible.

Ice Fishing for Walleye – Early Ice to Late Ice Breakdown

Just because they’re harboring under layers of ice doesn’t necessarily mean that a fish has become inactive.

Walleye are a great example. Many people believe that they become lazy and inactive during the colder winter months.

That’s probably more of a product of lack of fishing success than actually based on the fish’s biology. A successful fishing season isn’t about luck. It’s about knowing exactly what the fish are doing, where, and why. And a good angler is constantly learning.

The winter walleye season can be broken into three sub-seasons: early-, mid-, and late-ice.

Ice Fishing For Walleye – Early-Ice Location

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These fish are transitioning through the fall when they’re set up in deep water close to major structural elements. There’s still a forage base present, and baitfish like whitefish and cisco haven’t quite finished their spawn yet. Walleye are located in areas with deep water access, close to these shallow waters.

When the first ice sets in, they’ve not yet had any reason to move from these areas, so you can still find them there. Focus your attempts on flats that have points and sharp drop-offs with rock and pea gravel, adjacent to the main lake deeper water.

Ice Fishing For Walleye – Mid-Ice Location

Walleye move out toward mid-lake humps as winter progresses. The deeper water is a little bit warmer, keeping them more active. Locate these humps by checking out the waterways contour lines to find those honey hole humps!

Ice Fishing For Walleye- Late-Ice Location

Depending on how far north you live, late ice can last all the way into April. An understanding of when Walleye start spawning will give you a clue as to where to find them during this time.

According to Scott Glorvigen, 2004 PWT Championship and 2000 FLW Championship winner, “The walleyes already have spawn in mind. They are already starting their seasonal movements to set up for spawning grounds.”

That makes this the key to locating walleyes in this phase.

You want to look for a connecting river, stream, or runoff; things that will be bringing in the warmest water. At this time of year, shoreline structure is your answer. Look for things like gravel shorelines, spawning sections where rivers and streams run in, or even better, pressure ridges, which create as much structure below the water as you see above the water. These areas can really hold baitfish at this time of year.

Locating Walleye When Ice Fishing

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These are all generalizations, of course. Ice fishing for walleye will always be different on each body of water you go to. Depths, water clarity, and oxygen levels vary from lake to lake. Habitat and population sizes also influence your success.

No matter the season, you can usually find walleye within a couple of feet from the bottom along structures mentioned before like points, breaks, rock piles, and humps. Structure meets a few basic needs like shelter and food source. They like fast access to deep water, so the steep breaks around points and bars are good places to look.

You can ice fish walleye at any hour of the day or night, but changing light conditions in the morning or evening usually trigger more activity and feeding. The most active times tend to be the hour and a half surrounding sunup and sundown.

Technology can really be your friend here. You can locate your fish using combo units with GPS and Depth Finders. Using a tracking system like ANGLR can help you map out your angling locations ahead of time and track your outings, including water depth and conditions, time of year and day, barometric readings, and much more. That gives you the ability to see patterns within your season, and help you make better decisions in planning ahead for next season.


Ice Fishing For Walleye – Baits and Presentations

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Both jigging and a stationary approach can be used. You’ll want to set your lures to be about six to twelve inches off the bottom. If your water clarity is excellent or you’re graphing fish higher in the water column, you can set higher obviously.

Keep a variety of styles, sizes, and colors of jigs close at hand to choose from so you can experiment with what is working best.

Four main types of lures work well when ice fishing for walleyes: jigs, spoons, jigging rapalas, and lipless crankbaits.

  • Jigs: tip these with a minnow right behind the dorsal fin to keep them active and to draw the fish in.
  • Spoons: tip these with a pinched minnow head. These work by jerking the rod up a foot or two and then letting it drop back down to catch the fish’s curiosity.
  • Jigging Rapala: if the fish aren’t biting aggressively, you can tip it with a minnow head. By lifting and dropping the jigging rapala again, this jig will slowly circle its way back down to its resting position. This is a more aggressive approach.
  • Lipless Crankbait: these come in many colors and species and will quickly flutter back to its horizontal orientation quickly. This is the most aggressive approach.

If you’re allowed to fish with two lines, you can set up one line for jigging and the other as a dead stick. Set your dead stick with a bobber and live minnow on a hook or medium-sized jig. The idea is the jigging line will attract the fish. Some will hit that line, but if they’re in a neutral mood, they’ll probably go after the live minnow that has very little movement. However your walleye are feeling, you’ll have everything covered.


Ice Fishing Forums For All Of The Bucket Butts Out There

The lakes aren’t yet frozen over, but soon they will be. Now is the time to start brushing up on some of your techniques and making sure that you have the right jig for the job. Just how do you do that in the off-season? By visiting an online forum geared toward ice fishing.

Just like those that partake in this rugged sport, ice fishing forums are few and far between and not always easy to spot. So how do you know which ones are worth visiting and paying attention to, and which ones you should slide on by?

Stick with us, as we go through some of the best ice fishing forums out there.

Why Visit a Forum?

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A forum is a great place to connect online with like-minded people that share similar interests. Users from across the globe can hold discussions, ask questions, share information, tell tales, and talk about the one that got away. Pros can offer advice, and beginners can expand their knowledge base. Often forums will include competitions hosted by sponsors where users can win prizes. Unlike a chat room, conversations are typically able to be viewed long after they started.

Just as ice fishing is seasonal, the ice fishing forums tend to go through a period of hibernation. During the off-season, the conversations can become a little quiet as many users take up other hobbies and endeavors. Some of the threads continue to be active, though most are left to rest until the season draws nearer. As the weather takes a colder turn in the fall, more and more anglers flock back to their favorite forums, getting geared up.

Ice Fishing Forums: IceShanty

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IceShanty is one of the most active and helpful sites around. Even through the offseason, members carry conversations throughout the day. This time of year, they’re motivating each other with videos of last season’s highlights and lamenting the fact that the lake can’t freeze over fast enough.

They tout themselves as the ice fishing spot for everyone. Whether you are a rookie ice-man or seasoned ice fishing master, you will definitely learn something. You can discover what jigging rod, reel, auger, fish locator, or portable or hard side shack is appropriate for your methods and budget. If you think ice fishing isn’t necessarily your sport because of the temperature, there’s a special section on “Dressing For Ice Fishing.”

Canada is featured in prominence (where better to fish cold weather?), but each cold-wintered North American State from Alaska to Maryland has its own thread featured! This is where locals and visitors, alike, can share reports on their favorite ice. This forum maintains one of the most exhaustive lists of technical threads with conversations on equipment, “Ice Shack Tips,” and Darkhouse Spearing, to a very lengthy list of every kind of ice fish imaginable. If you’re looking to increase your knowledge base and make some friends across North America and beyond, IceShanty is a great forum.

There are typically upwards of 300 visitors to the site at any given time, and over 20 contributing members.

Ice Fishing Forums: In-Depth Outdoors

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In Depth Outdoors is another highly active forum, especially given the current off-season. Posts are updated within the hour daily, so there is always plenty of fresh new content to draw you in. If you’re looking for a new perch rod, or tip down system, there’s plenty of expert advice to be had. If you’ve got an opinion on which auger is the best for you, feel free to throw your 2-cents in on your favorite: hand powered, 2-stroke, 4-stroke, or electric.

While threads aren’t organized well into easy-to-locate-and-navigate sections, there is no lack of variety and information. You’ll have absolutely no trouble locating a wealth of knowledge. While they don’t list how many members are a part of this forum, or how many are currently active, we get the feeling the quantity and quality of posts speaks for itself.

This Ice Fishing Quick Start Guide Covers All You’ll Need!

Ice Fishing Forums: Ice Fishin 247

Ice Fishin 247 is also a relatively active site, though not quite to the extent of the previous two. Many conversations are updated daily and members are starting to really get in the mood for the upcoming season. There are generally over 200 users online at any given time, though the vast majority of them are guests, with less than five contributing members at a time. That appears to change during the ice season. This is likely the result that this forum doesn’t have the same quantity of members as the other ones.

Content is solid and extensive, with already over 8,000 topics garnering over 75,400 posts. Posts are easily organized and broken down into easy-to-digest topics. New to the sport? There’s an entire section dedicated to “Ice Fishing For Newbies,” where beginners can glean knowledge from more experienced experts. There’s a whole section dedicated to “Ice Safety” (making it hard to miss for those in a hurry). Just as with the larger IceShanty page, Ice Fishin 247 offers all the information you could desire on ice fishing in the States and beyond.

They even offer an occasional contest or giveaway.

Though the lakes aren’t yet frozen over, the time is coming! Get inspired to hit the ice with your cleats on this year by visiting one of these informative forums!


Ice Fishing Auger Comparisons – Interview With Minnesota’s Abby Olson

If you’re itching to get out there in the peace and quiet of the still winter air, alone on the ice with your thoughts and the fish, don’t think you’re alone.

If you’re counting down the days until you can spend time sharing the experience, trading back and forth between beer and coffee holed up in a shack with a couple of buddies, you’re not alone.

Coooooold is blowing in and the water is cooling down. The ice is coming.

Are you ready?

Do you have the tools it takes to get yourself set up with ease? Check out our comparisons of the Top Ice Fishing Augers. Fishing expert, Abby Olson shares her top picks and her experience with them.


Best Hand Ice Fishing Auger: Strikemaster Lazer Hand Auger

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Lazer ice augers seem simple at first glance, but they’re designed for comfort, speed, and precision. The Strikemaster Lazer Hand Auger is efficient enough to match up to a powered performance. Don’t let the lack of power fool you. This auger is able to make every revolution count, so you won’t need to use as much energy as you do with other augers. It cuts through the ice as quickly and easily as a manual auger is able.

Because it only weighs between 5.5 and 8.5 pounds (depending on the size) it’s a great choice when you need to pack light. It also breaks down into two pieces to make it extra portable.

The chrome alloy, stainless steel blades are dipped in powder coated paint, which reduces the amount of ice build-up your stuck dealing with, and they stay sharp longer than the blades of most other models. They cut through most surfaces quickly. The ergonomic handle design helps to reduce fatigue and transfers your effort directly to the blade. It’s built to last for years out in the freezing cold temperatures.

There is a good deal of variation to be had with this model with the size range from four to eight inches auger length. The handle is also adjustable, making it easy for different people to work with it, and the rubber grips make the auger comfortable on your hands. The blade guard protects you from harm.

The auger can be adjusted to move from 48” to 57”, so cutting through 15” of ice in a minute is no problem.

Best Electric Ice Fishing Auger: K-Drill Electric Ice Auger System

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The electric auger movement hasn’t yet swept completely across the nation; experienced ice-angers are a bit skeptical still. But ANGLR Expert, Abby Olson was introduced to her cousin’s K-Drill Ice Auger System last winter, and she fell in love with its ease of use and lightweight design. It’s been designed specifically for modern high-powered, brushless, handheld cordless electric drills, making it a very lightweight system.

“When driving out to a spot is not an option, it takes a load off of the weight of the sled,” says Olson. “Unlike the Ion (22#) or the Strikemaster (24-27#) electric ice augers, the weight of the K-Drill auger is only five pounds.” That lightweight design “will make it easy for any ice fisherman or woman to “hole hop” quickly and easily,” she explains.

You can purchase the system by itself to use with your own electric drill, but it also comes as a combo package with either a Milwaukee or DeWalt Drill. With no gas or propane involved, there is no exhaust or “smell” left in the ice shack.

The efficient chipper blade design ensures you’ll be able to drill easier and with more confidence than ever before. That’s thanks to the unique three-blade high carbon steel chipper design which chews through both fresh ice and old frozen holes. So far, it’s the lightest and easiest ice auger system ever developed and the ONLY system designed specifically for cordless electric drills.

“The best part of the K-Drill system is the high speed,” explains Olson. “The drill chews through the ice. Even a pre-drilled hole that has frozen over, common in permanent ice shacks, is no problem for the K-Drill’s efficient chipper blade design.”

It has a float at the attachment point of the auger, allowing the bit to float in the water should it become unattached from the dill.

Big bonus? Olson tells us the Chromalloy blades that are made in Minnesota can be sharpened by the company for free!

Best Gas Ice Fishing Auger: Eskimo Mako 43cc Quantum Ice Auger

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The two-stroke gas-powered Eskimo Mako 43cc Quantum Ice Auger ($378) runs on a high-performance, 43cc Viper® engine and has cutting ability far above the rest of the crowd thanks to a combination of the powerful engine and Quantum blades. This makes it a great choice if you’re getting a later start in the season and the ice is already thick and hard. It’s easy to operate with just a light touch to the controls, so you don’t have to remove your gloves or mittens to use it.

Extremely reliable, it doesn’t take but a tug or two before it’s ready and raring to go, no matter how frigid the temperatures are, in part thanks to the included primer. Fuel efficiency isn’t a problem. People tout they can cut multiple holes without having to refuel. We think it’s also one of the most pleasant augers to hold since there are minimal vibrations. There’s no jarring your cold bones with this one, especially given the anti-vibration foam-grip handlebars.

8” model weighs 31 pounds. 

10” model weighs 33 pounds. 

Things to watch out for:

  • The pull cord is a bit more fragile, so you may want to use a little TLC when tugging. Since you don’t ever have to really manhandle it, it shouldn’t be a problem.
  • The tank takes a mixture of fuel and oil, so it requires a little work before you fill the tank, but what a small price to pay for a great high-performance auger!

Best Propane Ice Fishing Auger: Eskimo Mako HIGH COMPRESSION 40cc Propane

If you’re going with propane, who doesn’t love an auto-prime fuel system? All you need to do is flip the switch to ON and start drilling. No priming. You can’t argue with that! The Eskimo Mako 40cc with 10” Quantum Ice Auger is both lightweight and powerful, and the high compression ratio makes it eat through ice like it’s butter.

The auger features a 40cc, four-stroke with a 10-inch two-blade system that’s 42 inches long, making it both lightweight, and powerful. The transmission is ball bearing and this auger operates well in most cold conditions.

Though propane, there aren’t gas fumes, so it’s a great choice for indoor drilling. This Mako is easy to start and a one pound tank should get you around 100 holes with no effort.