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Author Topic: Ice fishing for trout  (Read 1457 times)

Offline RandSoutdoors

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Ice fishing for trout
« on: Jan 07, 2020, 09:21 AM »
Hi everyone first time posting.  I usually fish with tipups for bass/pickerel and small jigs for panfish.  Just wondering if anybody has any tips for catching trout through the ice.  I have some local lakes that have stockies and I know of a lake that can produce large trout.  Any types of lures/bait that they have had success on or types of cover to focus on.  Thanks hope to hear back.

Offline Kourcha

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Re: Ice fishing for trout
« Reply #1 on: Jan 07, 2020, 09:31 AM »
Hey there I would suggest setting your tip ups in anywheres from 2-15fow over any gravel or rocky bottom, I would stay away from setting up in weeds Unless yer on the edge of the bed, for bait shiners, or crawlers for depth I set my traps anywheres from right underneath the ice to 2 feet off bottom

Offline jaeger80

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Re: Ice fishing for trout
« Reply #2 on: Jan 07, 2020, 11:08 AM »
I've jigged fatheads on a tungsten jighead near beaver lodges or other timber structures with great success.  I never did well on tipups though.

Offline butcher

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Re: Ice fishing for trout
« Reply #3 on: Jan 07, 2020, 11:40 AM »
I don't usually fish for trout through the ice but I agree that I've had limited success with tipups for trout.  I think it may be because they can be so finicky.  Even that tiny bit of resistance from the tipup trigger for the flag could cause them to drop a bait sometimes.  If you are targeting stockers, you can use just about any bait you would use during open water.  I've had success jigging small spoons like Kastmasters and Swedish Pimples - sometimes tipped with a fathead, mealworm or waxworm and other times just bare. 

I know many people also use PowerBait nuggets for stockers with good results. That bait floats so to use it through the ice, tie a leader onto a hook to the desired depth - maybe 1-3 feet and attach the leader to a barrel swivel.  Thread a small egg sinker onto your main line and then attach the main line to the swivel. You can then drop the bait straight down and set your rod on a holder and attach a bobber to the main line in between the guides as a strike indicator: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=m8_e6MCZ-2o.  When a fish takes the bait, the line will move through the egg sinker more easily and reduce the drag.  As the line gets pulled, you'll see the bobber shake or move up or down on the line alerting you to the strike. 

Lastly, if you don't want to go the PowerBait route, you can use the same rig with a mini marshmallow coupled with a garden worm, mealworm, waxworm or fathead.  Just thread the marshmallow through the hook and slide it onto the line just beyond the eye of the hook and then add your worm or minnow. The marshmallow will float the bait off the bottom making it more visible to passing fish.

Good luck!

Offline Van_Cleaver

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Re: Ice fishing for trout
« Reply #4 on: Jan 07, 2020, 11:55 AM »
Also don't usually target trout but one of the local lakes is stocked and tends to freeze early. (already froze and iced out) I've done best with small shiny spoons or dead sticking a horizontal jig with wax worms. Also of note; the trout in that lake tend to suspend so don't assume they will be on the bottom.

Offline nindo24

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Re: Ice fishing for trout
« Reply #5 on: Jan 07, 2020, 01:07 PM »
Usually a foot or 2 off the bottom with tip-ups; waxworms, mealworms, redfin minnows, powerbait(on occasion).

Jigging- pick a jig and throw a waxworm on it.
Keep Your Stick On The Ice!

Offline Kourcha

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Re: Ice fishing for trout
« Reply #6 on: Jan 07, 2020, 02:51 PM »
I've caught brookies from as little as half of foot of water under the ice to 30', From my experience jigging is the way to go for sure usually tip my jig with a piece of night crawler have used wax worms in the past but always have best of luck off crawlers, I do use tip ups with just as much success as my jig, Most the lakes and ponds I fish up here in Maine I am predominately targeting trout. I suggest staying mobile and learning the ponds you are targeting trout in as best as you can. I guess the best piece of advice I can give you is the biggest issue I come across fishing brook trout with tip ups is that they can be deadly accurate at striping your bait off the hook this goes for jigging aswell I've seen trout swipe at my jig and hit nothing but the waxie leaving me striped. This being said its very important to match your hook size to whatever bait you intend to use . Good luck and Tight Lines

Offline icecoldchrome

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Re: Ice fishing for trout
« Reply #7 on: Jan 07, 2020, 07:33 PM »
I fish alot of stocked trout lakes here in Western PA I have found that my personal sweet spot is better 6-8 fow and 8-10 inches off the bottom with minnows on a tip up also have cought tons of trout jigging golden millworms on a 1/64 silver jig head  atleast where I fish it seems the stocked rainbows are pretty easy to catch and aren't very picky

Offline PolarEscape

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Re: Ice fishing for trout
« Reply #8 on: Jan 08, 2020, 08:23 AM »
Small Jiggin Rapalas work very well, and when the fish hit they slam the lures, lots of fun!

Offline 4seasonfishrman

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Re: Ice fishing for trout
« Reply #9 on: Jan 08, 2020, 11:27 AM »
I usually catch trout in shallow water when jigging for panfish, a small demon jig tipped with a waxworm always seems to work.  Deeper water I'll use powerbait.

Offline ajv5148

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Re: Ice fishing for trout
« Reply #10 on: Jan 08, 2020, 02:03 PM »
I like tip downs for trout, as they offer less resistance. Many times very shortly after catching a panfish, I'll drop back down and get an aggressive hit from a trout right away. I think the commotion of the fight is like a dinner bell. So dont dilly dally, and get right back in the hole!

Offline Mr. Charlie

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Re: Ice fishing for trout
« Reply #11 on: Jan 10, 2020, 04:32 AM »
In my experience trout are pretty cooperative through the ice. We donít fish for them , but we catch them. They hit aggressively and fight great. I have caught trout all over lakes where they are stocked I havenít noticed a particular pattern but the guys who fish for them usually fish close to where they stock them and clean them up. Usually not bottom oriented from what my sonar says.
Keep yer worms warm!

Offline butcher

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Re: Ice fishing for trout
« Reply #12 on: Jan 10, 2020, 09:17 AM »
Usually not bottom oriented from what my sonar says.

I definitely agree with this as well as the other posters on fishing for trout species.  They sometimes will hug the bottom but often they suspend in the water column so make sure you work the entire column from bottom to top.  When you are jigging, bring your bait all the way up to the ice every few minutes somewhat quickly and then slowly drop it back down - even if you are using sonar and can see where the fish are on your screen. Many times when I do this, I get jarring strikes when I lower the bait. I think this works because fish that are further away from the bait suddenly see the movement of the bait - even from a relatively long distance away and then come over to investigate or feed.  It may even trigger a sort of reaction strike for neutral fish. I have had really good success with this technique for a long time and on many different species.   

Offline RuttNutt

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Re: Ice fishing for trout
« Reply #13 on: Jan 10, 2020, 11:44 AM »
I usually set up my JawJackers and then start jigging. (JawJackers can be deadly on trout if you can set the tension just right) On a good day, I will have problems setting the 3rd JawJacker because the other 2 keep going off- or will have "problems" getting the bait to the desired depth before a trout hits it. SOmetimes if it is too crazy, I will pull the JawJackers and just have fun jigging them up!

Sometimes I get them off the bottom, sometimes suspended and sometimes just below the ice. I set my Jaw Jackers all at different depths. If one depth seems to be hot, I will adjust them all for that depth.

I always use my flasher to set the jawjackers and sometimes I will see the fish follow the bait down, see the mark and then lower the bait to it or just "flash" in from the side suddenly and nail the bait! They seem to do the same thing when jigging. SOme days you will see the mark for awhile before they hit the bait, and sometimes they just come out of nowhere and you will only see the mark for a split second before they hit the lure/bait.

I just LOVE fishing for trout because usually they put up a hell of a fight! I had one chunky rainbow this year that ran and stripped line 3 times before I could get it up into the hole- every time It got close to the hole, it would go back down. That's why I love the JawJackersÖÖÖÖÖÖÖÖÖ.you can play the fish instead of just yanking it in hand over hand.

TROUT are FUN!  @)
Where's the FISH?!

Offline Petros

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Re: Ice fishing for trout
« Reply #14 on: Jan 12, 2020, 06:32 AM »
I never target trout but I usually catch a bunch jigging a small tear drop tipped with waxies when Iím fishing for panfish. There have been times Iíve moved to get away from trout hammering my offering!

Offline Icemole

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Re: Ice fishing for trout
« Reply #15 on: Jan 12, 2020, 11:26 AM »
 Rarely target trout anymore but my "go to" was a small white bucktail or feathered 1/32 or 1/16 jig tipped with a meal worm. Deadstick rod had a fathead on a plain hook and a few times was all they'd hit.  I tended to fish shallow under 10' depth near one of the feeder creeks in my local trout lake(unless I targeted the jumbo perch in deep water). I did get a few on tip-ups with a fathead and I got a few nicer trout from the deep water(near bottom) while perch fishing.... but if I was just going for a trout quickie I would often leave the tip-ups at home.

 Often seemed like the trout would roam in packs... set up and nothing for an hour then within 10 mins catch 3-4 then back to no action till the next pack came through


The problem with the gene pool is that there is no lifeguard.

Offline butcher

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Re: Ice fishing for trout
« Reply #16 on: Jan 12, 2020, 12:54 PM »
Often seemed like the trout would roam in packs... set up and nothing for an hour then within 10 mins catch 3-4 then back to no action till the next pack came through

A few guys Iíve seen fishing for trout regularly told me that the trout school up and swim in a circular route in lakes and ponds which is why they seem to hit hard for a period of time, stop biting entirely and then start hitting again later in pretty much the same pattern and same spot. I canít say for sure if this is accurate but it would tend to explain the spurts of activity followed by the shut down and then more action.

Offline Indiana_Lou

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Re: Ice fishing for trout
« Reply #17 on: Jan 12, 2020, 03:41 PM »
Butcher, I was going to respond to Icemole's post but didn't have time.  But since you brought it up, I think your friends are 100% correct. I don't fish very often for trout other than Lake Rowena (relatively small and shallow) but it freezes early. I've been there with a group set up either jigging or dead sticks in somewhat of a circle. And you can literally follow the progression of the fish as each subsequent guy gets action/or catches a fish. You can almost tell when your next in line to get a hit. Then things quiet down until they circle back through again. Certainly different than when you set up over a school of perch or gills. I know on Yellow Creek you can be catching panfish and all of a sudden  they quit and you might end up catching a large pike. I'm sure the large predator fish spooks the smaller panfish.  Lou

Offline NEZ

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Re: Ice fishing for trout
« Reply #18 on: Jan 13, 2020, 01:13 AM »
Tipups can be challenging for trout.  I have used fat heads and it seems that they will hit the minnow and then spit it out.  This causes the flag to trip, but no fish is on the line.  Also, the minnow falls to the bottom.  When this happens, I slowly raise the minnow as to swimming it to the top of the lake and the trout will pound it out of your hands.  Also to set my depth, I always start at the upper 1/3 of the lake, so if I'm in 18 feet, I will put my minnows down about 6 to 7 feet.  Also when I am jigging, I take notice at what depth the fish are showing up on the graph and then adjust my tip ups to that depth.  Hope this helps.  Nez

Offline Captn66

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Re: Ice fishing for trout
« Reply #19 on: Jan 13, 2020, 08:00 AM »
Iíve had good luck jigging them before.  Just a small tungsten jig with wax worms worked well.  8 Ė 10í of water ... Iíll usually set tip ups as well because well Ė I feel like Iím missing something if I donít ... Iíve never had luck with them & trout though. 

Offline JK

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Re: Ice fishing for trout
« Reply #20 on: Jan 18, 2020, 11:34 AM »
RuttNut are jaw jackers legal this year?  I have heard otherwise, I have used ther other years and really like them, mine are home made......jk

Offline RuttNutt

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Re: Ice fishing for trout
« Reply #21 on: Jan 19, 2020, 08:14 PM »
It depends who you talk to. I know people who have asked PF&BC officers and got conflicting answers.

I have been using them for years and never been questioned by PF&BC.

NOTHING I see in the regulations would make them illegal. If I ever get questioned I will ask them to show me in the regulations where it says they are illegal. If they try to cite me, I will fight it.
Where's the FISH?!

Offline mikez

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Re: Ice fishing for trout
« Reply #22 on: Jan 20, 2020, 01:55 PM »
I target trout almost exclusively on tipups here in Ma. I have excellent results. Have been doing it for 40 years.
I think the reason a lot of guys have trouble with trout is they require a finesse presentation that other species do not. Good fishermen that get plenty of flags on bass and pickeral lakes struggle to catch trout. Several small details make a world of difference.

Light leaders at least 3 feet long. In really clear water, even longer.

Small hooks and the smallest sinkers possible. Basically bare minimum of terminal tackle. I use worms alot and don't use any sinker at all for those.

Your tipup makes a HUGE difference. This might be the biggest factor for guys that struggle. The trap must trigger with the lightest tension possible. Even more important, the spool must turn smoothly and with minimal resistance. Cheap tipups with metal spools on a metal axis shake and rattle and tug on the line when the trout runs will get spit. Keep the spools well filled with line. The smaller the spool diameter, the more friction to cause resistance.
Be sure your tipup doesn't slide around and bump the spool against the ice when the fish runs.
I use older model Polar tipups. They can be set different ways to trip easier or harder. I set it at the lightest setting, turned into the wind to prevent wind flags.

Stealth on the ice near sets will greatly improve your success. Don't set up your lunch and hangout spot close to your sets. Don't ice skate or run around tossing footballs. Avoid banging and dropping things on the ice.
Cleats make a racket. Don't use them unless you absolutely have to for safety. Most guys seem to wear them all the time even if the ice isn't slippery. Try going without them. Learn the shuffle.
Don't go pounding over to a flag like a herd of buffalo (especially in cleats!). Walk or shuffle as quiet as possible. Don't drop your scooper with a bang. Keep holes open so you don't have to bang them open when you get a flag. Stealth will cut way down on drops.

I have a great deal of success with rainbows by setting my bait (usually a worm or nightcrawler) only 3 to 4 feet below the ice over deeper water. You'd be amazed how many trout are cruising just under the ice. Many guys don't seem to use that technique. Small baits are better. They are hunting insects or copepods for the most part. Minnows don't seem to work as well for that type of set. Stealth and quiet are even more important when setting the upper water column.

Browns and brookies hit in the upper water column too but I usually get more on shiners closer to the bottom anywhere from 2 foot to 30 foot deep.

Get out well before dawn. Try to have all holes drilled and all sets complete by first light. Often the majority of the action is the first couple hours. Guys that show up at 9:00 am are the ones who complain trout fishing is slow. ;D

Lots of guys get a few trout here or there and will try to tell you my suggestions are not necessary. If you want consistent fast action with lots of flags and less drops, try it my way. I spent a long time perfecting my technique.








Offline curtrein

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Re: Ice fishing for trout
« Reply #23 on: Jan 20, 2020, 04:50 PM »
Excellent post! My Tipup results for trout the past few years have been awful! Might try a few of your pointers. Iím open to anything really. The pain of this has been lessened by the fact that I have sonar and have had some success with jigging now. Back in the day when I started out I put all 4lb test on my tips.  Now I have nylon line with a 4-5ft section of 4lb test. Do you think that change is enough to turn off trout?

Offline dipNrip

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Re: Ice fishing for trout
« Reply #24 on: Jan 21, 2020, 07:15 AM »
I think it really depends on the lake. Most of the lakes here in SW PA trout are stocked and usually not many trout left over from year to year. That being said the longer trout stay in the water they more "wild" they become. 
 With that all being said most people fish deep and do poor on most days.  I like to fish close to the shore from 4 ft out to maybe 10 ft near to some either water inflow (just make sure the ice is safe as this is usually thin area in the ice) or structure (wood, weeds, a small contour in the land/water bottom).
It depends on the day on whether I fish 2 foot of the bottom or maybe 2 foot below the ice. with multiple tip ups I use both styles and then adjust as I start catching fihs.  Usually mid day is best as the water may warm up a degree or two.  I usually use minnows hooked through the back with light line 4 lb test and micro shot (black used for fly fishing) to add just enough weight to keep my minnow down. And to be honest the weight tip applies to anything I fish for.  Using huge split just adds resist when the finish run out which loses alot of fish I've found.

Offline butcher

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Re: Ice fishing for trout
« Reply #25 on: Jan 21, 2020, 09:47 AM »
Great post Mikez!  I had the privilege of ice fishing in Maine a couple of years ago.  We managed to catch some brook trout on our tipups.  I noticed two things:

1. The fish would only hit smelt on the lake we fished.  I don't think we had a single flag in two days on a shiner.  I had a few tip ups set with smelt and a few with shiners.  When I noticed the smelt lines were getting hit, I switched the tipups with shiners to smelt and had action right away.  Wherever you are fishing and regardless of the species, take note of what they are doing.  When you catch a fish take notice of the bait, the location, relative depth, etc.  When one fish is doing something, chances are the rest of them will be doing it as well.

2. The trout would hit the bait, run a few feet and then drop it. My son missed a bunch of flags the first morning because he would try to hit the fish right away when the flag went off, even if the line wasn't moving.  THIS IS VERY IMPORTANT.  If you arrive at a tripped flag and do not see the line moving, WAIT. Gently pick up the tipup and pay out a few feet of line and wait for the line to move.  Many times, a finicky fish will grab the bait and run a few feet but then feel some tension and drop it or they may spit it out to reposition the bait to swallow it head first.  If you pull the line right away, you'll yank it away from the fish.  If you wait for 30 seconds or even a minute or two, that fish will often come back for the bait and take it.  When you see the line going, set the hook.  I showed my son this trick and our hookup ratio improved dramatically.

 



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