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Ice Fishing
Home  < Activities & Programs  < Outdoor Winter Recreation  
   

Ice Fishing

View DNR Ice Safety Information

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Minneapolis lakes offer the same great fishing in the winter months as they do when the weather is warmer. However, methods to catch fish change on frozen lakes, as well as locations to find the feeding fish. Check your local bait shop for "hotspots" and specific techniques for the fish you're after. Ice augers, scoops and warm clothes are a necessity to participate in this Minnesota tradition.

All Minneapolis boat launches make great access points to drop gear close to the water's edge. To learn more about a lake you plan to fish, maps, netting reports and consumption advisories visit the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources (MNDNR) website at the Minnesota DNR Website.

Fish

Walleye can be caught on lakes Harriet, Nokomis, Calhoun, Cedar and Lake of the Isles. They are light-sensitive fish and tend to bite best around dawn and dusk. Aggressive fish can be found near weed lines on hard bottoms located near deeper water. Walleye are can taken with live bait; bobbers or jigging also work well. Start with aggressive jigging and work your way down to subtle taps. Usually you will find something in between works. Typical tackle consists of:

  • slip bobber rig
  • jigging spoon
  • 6-8 lb. line
  • hooked minnow
  • variety of colors

Northern Pike can be caught on lakes Harriet, Calhoun, Cedar, Lake of the Isles and Ryan lakes. People use "tip-ups" with large minnows. Northern Pike tend to be loners and are found anywhere in the water column. Fishing one to four feet just below the ice is a good place to start.

Crappies are predominately sought after on lakes Harriet, Calhoun and Ryan. Easy to catch, they also provide a nice sporting fight. Finding them is another story; crappies tend to school together and wander all over the lakes they inhabit. Typical tackle consists of:

  • small split shot
  • crappie minnow
  • small bobber
  • small hook
  • light action ice fishing rod

Safety First

Frozen lakes are never 100 percent safe. You can't judge the strength of ice just by its appearance, age, thickness, temperature or whether or not the ice is covered with snow. Strength is based on all these factors, plus the depth of water under the ice, size of the water body, water chemistry, currents, the distribution of the load on the ice and local climatic conditions.

The Minneapolis Park and Recreation Board (MPRB) monitors the ice on its lakes and when an area is judged unsafe posts "Thin Ice" warning signs. Do not enter these areas!

For MNDNR guidelines, safety tips and emergency procedures visit the Minnesota DNR Website on ice safety.

Rules and Regulations

  • Neither the MN DNR nor the MPRB require a permit for a portable fish house.
  • Fish houses must be occupied when they are on the lake and removed at the end of the day; overnighters are not allowed.
  • Gas powered augers are legal to use; holes are limited to 10 inches in diameter.
  • No one is allowed on city lakes between midnight and daylight of the following morning.
  • The use of motorized vehicles (cars, trucks, ATVs, snowmobiles, etc.) is strictly prohibited on City Lakes. For more information call: 612-230-6400.
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