Ice fishing for bass is something that is often overlooked throughout the north country. These largely targeted open-water fish seem to escape the minds of most anglers when lakes harden up for the winter. Wired2fish’s Nick Dumke doesn’t forget about his little green friends, though. In this video, Dumke shows us how to ice fish for bass with some sound location advice and a handful of proven tactics and techniques. *Featured product listing at the bottom.
ICE FISHING BASS LOCATIONS
Like most fish species, largemouth bass congregate and head toward deeper water when temperatures start to cool off. Deep basins provide warmer water and, as a result of that, food. In his search for largemouth, Dumke focuses his efforts on the edges of basins. Although largemouth are much more lethargic under the ice, they rarely stop moving. While examining forward-facing sonar, Dumke noticed that largemouth make laps around the outside of the basin, corralling bait. One of the best ways to get on these roaming bass is to predict their movements around the basin. This, however, can be extremely difficult, especially without the right equipment. Dumke does share one more commonality in winter largemouth hiding areas in case you can’t land on the basin fish.
Another region that often holds bass throughout the winter is areas with good, green grass. Bass relate to grass (weeds) year-round, and under the ice is no different. “That good grass that you find in the fall that you might be catching them out of, a lot of times those fish will stay in that area and stay schooled up,” Dumke says. Weed points and deep weed flats are a couple of areas to keep an eye out for. Finding the fish is only half the battle, though.
TOP TACTICS FOR ICE FISHING BASS
A lot of traits carry over from the open water season when it comes to ice fishing for bass but not a lot of commonality in ice fishing gear. Dumke breaks it down into three different baits he always has with him when chasing largemouth through the ice.
- Tungsten and waxworm. It’s hard to beat a simple panfish rig like a micro tungsten jig and a waxworm or Euro larvae when ice fishing bass, especially when they’re extremely finicky. They don’t always want a big meal, and sometimes you have to coax them in with an ultra-finesse presentation.
- Jig and plastic. Similar to open water, bass have a hard time resisting soft plastic lures. Dumke opts for a small bug or minnow imitating soft plastic, as largemouth don’t typically need a large meal like in the summer.
- Larger aggressive baits. As Dumke harps on the fact, largemouth aren’t always in a sluggish mood like they were on this particular day. Similar to the best walleye ice fishing baits, lure categories like lipless crankbaits, spoons, and other aggressive lures can be extremely effective for largemouth bass throughout the winter.
FEATURED PRODUCT (retail links)
TUNGSTEN AND WAXWORM SETUP
- LURE – Eagle Claw Lazer Sharp Tungsten Arctic Ice Jig, color – Pearl Orange, Buy at Walmart
- ROD – 13 Fishing Tickle Stick Ice Rod, 30″ UL, Buy at FishUSA
- REEL – 13 Fishing Black Betty FreeFall Ghost Inline Reel, Buy at Walmart
- LINE – Sufix Advance Ice 100% Fluorocarbon Line, 4-pound, Buy at FishUSA
JIG AND PLASTIC SETUP
- JIG – Z-Man Micro Finesse ShroomZ Jighead, 1/15-ounce, Buy at FishUSA
- PLASTIC – Z-Man LarvaZ, Green Pumpkin, Buy at FishUSA
- ROD – Daiwa KAGE Ice Fishing Rod, 30″ UL, Buy at Daiwa
- REEL – Daiwa Daiwa QR Ultralight Spinning Reel, 5.1:1, Buy at FishUSA
- LINE – Seaguar IceX Fluorocarbon Ice Line, 4-pound, Buy at FishUSA
- ICE JIGGING BAITS, Buy at FishUSA
- FISH FINDER – Humminbird Ice HELIX 9 MSI+ GPS G4N MEGA Live Ice Bundle, Buy at FishUSA
- AUGER – StrikeMaster Lithium 40V Lite, Buy at Rapala
- JACKET – StrikeMaster Surface Jacket, Buy at Rapala
- BIBS – StrikeMaster Surface Bibs, Buy at Rapala