Ice Fishing Tips For Walleye – Unique Tips And Tricks

As winter sets in, anglers eagerly prepare for the frosty adventures of ice fishing. With their gear finely tuned and excitement building, they are gearing up for a season of frozen lakes and the pursuit of cold water treasures beneath the ice, whether it is the thrill of hooking into a trophy Walleye or the camaraderie around a cozy ice shelter, the allure of ice fishing beckons, promising unforgettable moments in the chill of the season. 

Ice fishing for Walleye in winter is an exciting adventure, but it’s more than just dropping a line and waiting. Success hinges on a blend of skill, patience, and understanding of the environment.

Ice Fishing Tips For Walleye

In this article, we will explore the tips and techniques that can help make your Walleye ice fishing expeditions not just successful but truly memorable. So, as the winter landscape transforms, let’s dive into the world of Walleye ice fishing and unlock the secrets to a successful frozen water adventure. Lets explore Ice Fishing Tips For Walleye in details.

Check Is It Safe To Eat Lake Erie Walleye?

Tips for Finding Walleye Under the Ice

Tips for Finding Walleye Under the Ice

Safety First

Ice fishing is a beloved winter pastime, but it is crucial to prioritize safety when heading out onto the frozen waters. Start by checking the ice thickness, ensuring it is at least four inches before you venture out. Dress appropriately with warm layers and a life jacket to guard against the cold and the unexpected. 

Ice cleats can help prevent slips on the icy surface. Be mindful of the weather conditions and avoid extreme situations like high winds or bitterly cold temperatures. Inform someone you trust about your plans and expected return time, offering a safety net in case of unforeseen circumstances. 

Do not forget to pack a first aid kit and a charged cell phone (to be kept in a plastic bag) to be prepared for any emergencies that may arise. These precautions ensure a safer and more enjoyable ice fishing experience.


Minnesota, Wisconsin, Michigan, North Dakota, and South Dakota are indeed known for being some of the best states for Walleye ice fishing. These states offer a wide range of lakes and reservoirs that are popular among ice fishing enthusiasts, with abundant Walleye populations.

To maximize your success when ice fishing for Walleye, it is advisable to utilize depth charts and fishing maps as part of your pre trip planning. Focus on selecting 3-4 strategic locations that display significant structural depth transitions, like near shore points and mid-lake humps. 

Walleye are commonly found in depths of 15-25 feet and tend to congregate along regions where depth abruptly changes. To locate ideal spots for ice fishing Walleye, it is crucial to target deeper waters near underwater structures like reefs, drop-offs, and weed beds. 

These structures provide shelter and feeding opportunities for the cold water-loving Walleye; you can greatly enhance your chances of a productive ice fishing expedition.


Walleye ice fishing timing can be divided into late fall and early winter when they are in shallower waters, mid-winter when they move to deeper spots, and late winter/early spring when they become more active near the ice’s edge. Dawn and dusk are generally prime times for fishing, with Walleye being more active during low-light conditions. 

Weather, such as overcast days, can influence their behavior. Local knowledge is invaluable as conditions vary by location. Safety precautions are essential, including checking ice thickness, carrying safety gear, and following local regulations to ensure a successful and secure ice fishing experience.

Drilling Multiple Holes

A key strategy for successful Walleye ice fishing is to drill multiple holes at each chosen location. It is advisable to drill approximately 10 to 15 holes, arranged in a grid pattern or a zig-zag line, depending on the specific structure you’re targeting. 

For instance, if you are looking at a point, you can make 5 holes in the shallower area, 5 in the middle where it gets deeper, and 5 more in the deepest part. By covering a range of depths and structures, you increase your chances of encountering Walleye. 

After drilling, it is crucial to use your Walleye ice fishing rod to jig for about 5 to 10 minutes in each hole. This method allows you to determine where the fish are most active, ensuring a more productive and enjoyable ice fishing experience.

Move Quietly and Minimize Noise

Various noises like footsteps, drilling holes, and the sound of ATVs from above can make Walleye more cautious. You need to avoid unnecessary actions to prevent spooking the cautious fish. 

This tactic helps maintain stealth, as Walleye can see movement and shadows above the ice, increasing the chances of attracting them to your bait or lure without startling them. Patience and stillness are key to enhancing your success while ice fishing for Walleye.

Use Electronics to Find Walleye Under the Ice

Ice fishing flashers and fish finders are electronic devices that use sonar technology to locate fish under the ice. They send out sound waves, interpret the signals that bounce back, and display a visual representation of fish and their depths on a screen. 

These tools are invaluable for ice anglers as they make it easier to find fish, adjust bait and techniques in real time, and increase efficiency by targeting productive areas. Their use can greatly improve your chances of a successful ice fishing outing.

Check What Do Walleye Eat?

Tips for Catching Walleye Under the Ice | Ice Fishing Tips For Walleye

Tips for Catching Walleye Under the Ice

Use Quality Gear

Quality gear enhances your chances of landing these elusive and often cautious fish, even in the challenging conditions of ice fishing. 

  • The ideal Walleye ice fishing rod typically features a fast or extra-fast action, which helps you feel even the gentlest nibbles, and a power rating in the medium-light to medium range, providing the necessary backbone to handle Walleye once they bite. A length of 28 to 36 inches is ideal for maneuvering in the confined spaces of ice shanties. It offers the right balance between control and leverage. 
  • Quality ice fishing reels often come with precise drag systems, allowing you to adjust the tension smoothly and land fish with greater control. This is particularly important when dealing with Walleye, which can be easily spooked.
  • A strong and reliable fishing line is essential for reeling in Walleye, as they are known for their powerful runs and fighting abilities. Quality lines are less likely to break or fail during these battles.
  • Ice fishing gear built with durable materials can withstand harsh winter conditions, including cold temperatures and potential ice and snow accumulation. This durability ensures that your gear remains reliable throughout the season.

Which Bait or Lure?

In ice fishing, bait size plays a pivotal role in determining the kind of fish you will catch. When targeting eater sized (15-18 inches) Walleye, using larger baits like fathead minnows or shiners on jigs, mid size spoons, and glide baits can help you land a satisfying catch. However, if your goal is to reel in a big (31-42 inches) Walleye, use baits like creek chub, red tails, or substantial profile baits like Rippin’ Shads. 

Consider lures that are appropriate for the depth ranges you intend to fish. In the case of winter Walleye fishing, typically using 1/8- to ¼-ounce baits, as they are well suited for enticing Walleye in cold water. 

Check Is walleye A Good Fish To Eat?

Maintaining lively bait during freezing conditions can be tough, but modern bait stations keep your bait oxygenated and active. Active bait like shiners, fatheads, and red-tails are great for ice fishing, with regional preferences. Creek chubs are popular in the Dakotas when kept fresh and alive, making them enticing for Walleye under the ice.

Ice Fishing Shelter

Setting up an ice fishing shelter is essential for winter fishing. Choose the right shelter type, clear the area, insulate the floor, and ensure proper ventilation and safety. Once set up, you can enjoy the protection and comfort it provides while fishing on the ice.

Starting from the Shorelines

Start ice fishing near shorelines during early ice for access to structures and warmer water. As the day progresses, consider moving to nearby deeper spots like main lake points and breaks, with the added advantage of finding a location with a nearby break to maximize your chances of catching active Walleye near the shallows.

Pay Attention to the Bite

When ice fishing for Walleye, it’s essential to be attentive to their subtle bites. Keep a keen eye on any changes in tension on your line, as walleye bites can be quite delicate. When you feel a nibble or a slight pull, seize the opportunity and set the hook to secure your catch.


Using tip-ups for walleye ice fishing can be an effective strategy, especially when you want to cover a larger area and increase your chances of catching these elusive fish. However, it is a traditional way. Many anglers prefer the modern approach with ice fishing rods. 

Innovations have made using fishing rods simpler, especially with a dead stick setup that helps you notice when fish bite and can even set the hook for you. When you are battling a big fish, using a rod and reel makes it easier to catch and reduces tangled lines. 

Additionally, not using a transducer in the dead stick hole reduces disturbances, making it more enticing for larger fish.

Check Best Crankbaits And Jerkbaits For Walleye.

Tips for Jigging Walleye Ice Fishing

Jigging is a highly effective and popular technique for ice fishing Walleye, offering a straightforward approach for both beginners and experienced anglers. 

Tips for Jigging Walleye Ice Fishing (1)
  • To start, select the right jig. In clear water conditions, silver colored baits are a top recommendation due to their ability to mimic minnows and effectively reflect light, attracting fish to your line. This choice is particularly advantageous during the early part of the season when there is minimal snow cover, and Walleye tend to be in shallower waters.
  • To maximize your success, jig your bait within the 1-3 feet range off the bottom until you spot fish on your flasher or receive bites. Utilizing baits like the flutter Spoons or the rattle spoons from our Ice fishing kit can enhance your chances by effectively reflecting light and enticing Walleye to your presentation. 
  • For stained water, use bright colors like chartreuse to make it easier for Walleye to locate your lure. These vibrant hues stand out, unlike more natural colors. A combination of erratic and regular jigging generates extra vibrations to attract Walleye in these conditions.
  • Drill a hole in the ice to lower the jig to the lake’s bottom. Engage in the rhythmic motion of lifting and lowering the jig while watching your rod tip for any signs of fish activity. Keep a light touch to hook Walleye due to their delicate mouths and experiment with various jigging motions and speeds as there is no one size fits-all approach. 
  • Patience is key, as Walleye can be selective biters. With practice, you will hone your jigging technique, allowing you to land your fair share of Walleye through the ice. Several jigging methods, including vertical jigging, dead sticking, lift and drop, and spoon flashing, offer additional versatility for attracting Walleye, depending on their activity level and proximity.

Check How To Jig For Walleye? 

Dress Warmly

Dressing appropriately for Walleye ice fishing is essential for comfort and safety in cold conditions. Layering your clothing helps trap warmth, with a moisture wicking base, insulating mid layer, and a waterproof outer layer. Insulated boots, gloves, and a warm hat are crucial for warmth. 

Specialized ice fishing gear, including insulated bibs and jackets, enhances your protection. Don’t forget safety equipment such as ice cleats and a life jacket. Hand and foot warmers can provide extra comfort, and polarized sunglasses protect your eyes. 

Always check the weather forecast and adjust your attire accordingly for a successful and enjoyable Walleye ice fishing experience.

My Final Thoughts

In the world of ice fishing for Walleye, success hinges on a blend of skill, strategy, and preparation. As winter’s icy grip takes hold, anglers venture onto frozen lakes in search of these elusive treasures. Safety is paramount, as is understanding Walleye’s behavior, using quality gear, and employing effective techniques. The tips in this article provide a blueprint for a rewarding ice fishing experience, ensuring that the chill of the season is met with unforgettable moments and the thrill of landing Walleye. So, embrace these insights and set out on your winter adventure with confidence.

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