If you thought that cold fronts mean the end of fishing, think again as winter slumber doesn’t apply to angling. Fish don’t hibernate and neither should you. So it’s high time you bundled up and hit one of many ice fishing destinations across the States. But where should you go?
Luckily, you won’t have to browse endlessly before you find your ideal location. Every year we post our favorite hotspots, and this year is no exception. We handpicked the best frozen fisheries in the US, just for you. From places that are on everyone’s radar to tucked-away gems, we included something for everyone. Scroll down and take a look at our 2023 picks.
Lake of the Woods, Oregon
It’s only fitting that we kick off our fishing journey with Oregon’s outdoor star – Lake of the Woods. This natural lake lies in Klamath County and spans 1000 acres. Crowned by towering forests, the lake is also blessed with a stunning view of the snow-capped Cascades. But besides the scenic setting, the lake is famous for its incredible fishing opportunities.
Lake of the Woods is home to a variety of fish species, but Trout, Crappie, Perch, Salmon, and Bass will be your main targets here. And don’t let the snow deceive you – the lake may seem serene while covered with ice, but these guys are very much active under it. Yellow Perch, in particular, are eager to bite. And when they do, they’ll keep you warm for sure.
Speaking of warming up, the area boasts numerous resorts and events that will rekindle your body and spirit. Nature lovers can keep on admiring the wildlife by bird watching. Families can spend some quality time ice skating. Meanwhile, those keen on having a cup of hot beverage in a cozy armchair can check in at one of many superb accommodations. Sounds tempting, doesn’t it?
Bonaparte Lake, Washington
Another popular ice fishing spot on the West Coast is Bonaparte Lake. This Washington retreat is nestled at the foot of Bonaparte Mountain and is surrounded by thick evergreen trees. This lush nature matches the lake’s vibrant underwater world. As such, Bonaparte Lake is your idyllic and prolific ice fishing destination.
Bonaparte Lake is a reliable winter fishery as it produces safe ice fishing conditions and a continuous flow of catches. The most commonly caught species are Brook Trout, Kokanee, Lake Trout, Smallmouth Bass, Rainbow Trout, and Tiger Trout. But Tiger Trout holds a special place in Bonaparte Lake’s heart because the state record was landed here.
If you opt for Bonaparte Lake as your ice fishing corner, prepare for an “unplugged” experience. Visiting this remote oasis means reconnecting with nature by skate skiing and enjoying your stay in the rustic wooden cabins. Plus, nothing screams winter delight more than miles of breathtaking Sno-Park trails. So, should you decide to explore Bonaparte Lake, you’ll be in for a treat.
Henry’s Lake, Idaho
The Northwest brings us to our next ice fishing heaven – Henry’s Lake. The surprising catch rates and equally inspiring catches brought our attention to this Idaho beauty. Come in mid-November and you’ll witness avid ice fishing enthusiasts gradually populating the lake. Not even a north breeze and sub-zero temperatures can stop them from trying their luck at landing trophy fish.
It’s true – the prize catch is on everyone’s radar and it’s none other than Trout. Henry’s Lake is a renowned Cutthroat and Brook Trout fishery. Highly regarded in the angling circles and recommended by Idaho Fish and Game, Henry’s Lake is a must-see ice fishing destination in the US this winter. It’s one of the first waters to cap over in Idaho and it yields the largest Trout. What else could you wish for?
Maybe more snow-related adventures? Hockey, ice skating, skiing, snowshoeing, and snowmobiling are among the beloved activities you can do in the nearby city of Idaho Falls. The town will welcome you with its local hospitality and traditional food, so feel free to stop by after a long day of ice fishing on Henry’s Lake.
Sheridan Lake, South Dakota
Moving closer to the Midwest, you’ll reach South Dakota’s pride and joy – the Black Hills National Forest. Roam through its thick greenery and you’ll discover the forests’ well-guarded treasure – Sheridan Lake. There’s no doubt that you’ll fall in love with the lake at first sight. But there’s more to this ice fishing destination than meets the eye.
While the lake’s beauty is captivating, its underwater world is even more fascinating. There’s a reason we called the lake a treasure. Did you know that Sheridan Lake was once a thriving gold mining camp? It’s true, the entire town resides in its depths now. Think about that the next time you visit the lake. Or, perhaps focus on its underwater residents instead.
These waters are teeming with life. The lake is widely famous for its angling opportunities. Ice fishing promises decent Pike, Perch, and Trout bites. And even if you don’t land a prize catch, you won’t end up empty-handed. So, be it an odd history lesson or a cool ice fishing session, Sheridan Lake is your golden ticket to a memorable winter vacation in South Dakota.
Lake of the Woods, Minnesota
“Wait, didn’t I read about Lake of the Woods a bit earlier?” Guilty as charged – we simply couldn’t resist including one more in this year’s list. But this time we will take you to the place where Manitoba, Ontario, and Minnesota meet. Gear up because the northwest part of Minnesota guarantees a one-of-a-kind ice fishing adventure.
Only topped by the Great Lakes, Lake of the Woods is a major player and a proud owner of more than 300,000 acres of water in the United States. Massive and impressive, the lake is your ultimate ice fishing playground. Come winter, the lake becomes dotted with shanties and passionate fishos. Many opt for overnight camping and sleepless nights at skid houses, too.
All that is to try their luck at reeling in the mighty three – Walleye, Northern Pike, and Sauger. While Pike and Sauger receive attention, Walleye always steal the spotlight. So when in Rome, do as the Romans do and go after that trophy Walleye. Oh, and don’t forget to regale yourself with refreshments from the nearby Zippel Bay Resort’s igloo bar.
Boom Lake, Wisconsin
Our next ice fishing destination comes aptly named. Boom Lake has an appropriately booming offer of fish species. While the lake itself isn’t the first thing that comes to mind when you think of angling in Wisconsin, we promise it won’t disappoint. As a flowage of the Wisconsin River, Boom Lake promises action-packed encounters with some of the most prominent freshwater celebrities in the world. Scroll down, and check out what awaits under the ice.
Seasoned anglers will tell you not to settle for anything less than brag-worthy catches. Fortunately, you won’t have to. Boom Lake is abundant in Panfish, but it’s also home to top-tier fighters such as Musky, Pike, and Walleye. Smallmouth and Largemouth Bass aren’t lagging far behind either. So, dancing with the stars is guaranteed.
Unlike some secluded fisheries, Boom Lake’s location makes it convenient for you to go on an ice fishing adventure with your little ones. Located only a 10-minute drive from the Rhinelander‘s downtown, Boom Lake is perfect for a family trip. Rhinelander, also known as the “Ice Fishing Capital of the World,” will cater to your needs. Whether it’s recharging in one of the town’s many diners and cafes or casting in its waters, Rhinelander and its Boom Lake are the places to be.
Shores and Islands, Ohio
With Lake Erie at its doorstep, our next hotspot practically doesn’t need any introduction. Even though it may be freezing cold outside, Shores and Islands and Lake Erie are all about keeping you toasty. So, if you want to spice up your ice fishing experience, consider Shores and Islands as your next lakeside getaway.
Lake Erie is a colossal body of water spanning six million acres. It seems almost impossible that the 13th-largest lake in the world can freeze. But for almost three months, it’s rock solid and offers incredible ice fishing. Known as the “Walleye Capital of the World,” this fishery is the Walleye kingdom in every sense. Besides the royals, expect to cross paths with Bass, Trout, Pike, and Perch.
The area between Kelleys and South Bass Islands is considered to be quite prolific. But venturing further from the shore might require the expertise of the local guides. So, if you’re fishing on your own, you might want to stay closer to the mainland. Plus, staying closer to the coast has its perks. You can easily grab something to eat and drink after a productive day of angling.
Lake Winnipesaukee, New Hampshire
If you find yourself roaming around the East Coast, don’t miss out on the opportunity to visit New Hampshire. Thanks to its lavish and unspoiled nature, the state earned the nickname “Switzerland of America.” This speaks volumes about the state’s natural wonders. But one Eden-like place sets itself apart from the rest because of its picturesque beauty – Lake Winnipesaukee.
Lake Winnipesaukee is the largest lake in the state of New Hampshire and as such, is a go-to destination for recreational angling. Ice fishing is particularly popular. And how could it not be when Rainbow Trout, White Perch, and Lake Trout can grace the end of your line? The lake typically freezes in January and it’s safe for ice fishing until April.
The peak of the ice fishing season on Lake Winnipesaukee begins with the annual Great Meredith Rotary Ice Fishing Derby in February. This weekend-long event promises entertainment for the entire family. Regardless of whether you’re an avid angler or a curious kid, there’s something for everyone. Valuable prizes, too! So, go ahead and break the ice in style on Lake Winnipesaukee.
Moosehead Lake, Maine
We end our 2023 ice fishing journey on the East Coast with none other than Maine and its Moosehead Lake. Moosehead Lake is our repeat offender – we’ve featured it as both a summer and winter angling paradise before. We can’t help that the lake is a fishing hotspot! You’ll forgive us that the last location on the list doesn’t come as a surprise, but you really can’t go wrong with Moosehead Lake as your ice fishing vacation destination.
Moosehead Lake is the largest lake in Maine and as such it boasts enviable fishing opportunities. This elevated oasis is home to a variety of fish species with Brook Trout, Cusk, Salmon, and Togue being the most popular ones. Togue are cherished ice fishing targets around here and the annual Moosehead Lake Togue Derby just testifies to that fact.
Besides this three-day ice fishing frenzy, Moosehead Lake offers a number of snow-inspired activities. Snowshoeing and snowmobiling are among the most common pastimes. But if you’re really up for a challenge, enroll in Moosehead Pinnacle Pursuit and brag about summiting not one, not two, but six peaks! All in all, it’s obvious that Moosehead Lake has a lot in store for you this winter.
Ice Fishing Destinations in the US: Need More Ice with That?
Of course, there’s always more! The US is blessed with ice fishing destinations and no single article can name them all. But we can always make a list of the best ones every year so that you can focus on exploring those fisheries before moving to the next batch. Isn’t it more fun that way? If you’re hooked on the idea to fish on one or more lakes from this list, grab your stuff and book your 2023 ice fishing adventure now!
One last reminder before you hit the frozen lake – don’t forget that safety comes first. Ice isn’t the same everywhere and weather may be unpredictable from time to time, so always double-check the conditions and make sure that odds are in your favor. Better safe than sorry, right? Tight lines!
Have you ever been ice fishing to any of the places we mentioned above? Where will you be angling this winter season? Hit the button below and share your ice fishing plans with us!
If you end up craving even more ice fishing corners, take a look at our last year’s list, too.
February 27, 2023 Feb 27, 2023
Thank you for this article, it is very useful for me. I have went to Boom Lake, Wisconsin last winter with my father and my kids. It was a beautiful experience for them, because they never went for a Winter Bass Fishing before.
Replied on February 28, 2023 Feb 28, 2023
Glad you enjoyed the article! Boon Lake is a fantastic place to fish.
Here’s to many more beautiful fishing experiences!