Winter Fishing: Nice to be on the ice
Ice fishing is a popular winter activity in North Dakota
When rivers and lakes throughout North Dakota ice over, avid anglers drill a hole and keep on fishing. Ice fishing practices in North Dakota run the gamut, from a bucket on the ice to elaborate icehouse setups that include televised football and tasty foods, while others may prefer darkhouse spearfishing.
Regardless of your technique, ice fishing provides hours of recreation. Embrace the Norwegian lifestyle known as "friluftsliv" which translates to "free air life." Year-round activities in the great outdoors and connecting with nature have positive effects on health, mind and body, but be sure you check on the ice conditions before heading out as temperature differences and other conditions will affect ice.
Some of the best places to ice fish in North Dakota:
- Devils Lake – Famous for ice fishing and great services. The state’s largest natural body of water boasts abundant populations of varied species of fish. Devils Lake is famous for abundant jumbo yellow perch, quality northern pike, walleye and white bass in the winter.
- Lake Metigoshe – In the densely forested Turtle Mountains of North Dakota, straddling the U.S.-Canadian border, Lake Metigoshe is one of the cleanest natural freshwater lakes in North Dakota. Lake Metigoshe and its many surrounding small bodies of water are perfect for catching pike and walleye. But the real reasons to add Metigoshe to your list are monster bluegills and quality crappie.
- Lehr Area – Logan/McIntosh county near Lehr is home to dozens of glacial lakes that are fantastic for ice fishing. Some lakes boast healthy perch populations (Erickson Lake, Dollinger-Schnabel Lake) while others have abundant large pike (Beaver Lake, Clear Lake) and walleye (Dry Lake, Green Lake, Marvin Miller Lake).
- Lake Sakakawea – Anglers will find excellent numbers of 15- to 20-inch walleye and exceptional pike fishing that is only expected to get better because of a maturing population with good average size. Pike exceeding 15 pounds are likely to be more common in 2021 and beyond. Lake Sakakawea is a great place for darkhouse spearfishing because of its healthy pike.
- Lake Darling – Just northwest of Minot, Lake Darling rests along the Upper Souris National Wildlife Refuge. Lake Darling is home to strong northern pike, walleye and yellow perch populations.
- Lake Audubon – Good numbers of walleye and an excellent smallmouth bass fishery. Anglers should see good numbers of 14- to 20-inch walleye. Some large pike are present. Audubon has easy access being adjacent to Highway 83.
- Robinson Area – Upper Kidder County lakes like Jasper near Robinson and Josephine by Tuttle, have abundant walleye with the occasional fish over 25 inches. Woodhouse Lake northeast of Wing has abundant large walleye, with some topping 28 inches. Helen Lake north of Tuttle is an excellent pike fishery.
- Valley City Area – Lake Ashtabula has been fairly consistent with good numbers of walleye and pike. A hidden gem may be some of the smaller lakes around Valley City in Barnes County. Moon and St. Mary’s lakes have abundant walleye and perch populations.