The word “destination” typically brings to mind images of warm climates, white beaches and maybe even some exotic cuisine. For anglers, it often means blue waters, secluded honey holes and trophy exotic species waiting to be hooked.
For ice fishermen, though, the colder it is the better when it comes to their dream destinations. The country is rich with great ice fishing lakes — and everyone will swear by their local favorite — but we’ve got four of the best ice fishing destinations the U.S. has to offer.
Lake Champlain – Vermont
One of Vermont’s most popular trout locations, Lake Champlain is regularly stocked with different trout species, with more than a keeper or two waiting to be caught. With hundreds of miles of shoreline, you can drill your holes at almost any location you want and never experience the same fishing twice. The lake is so big, in fact, that it stretches into New York and Quebec, as well.
Higgins Lake – Michigan
Located in the center of Michigan’s Upper Peninsula, Higgins Lake offers deep inland waters with fish ready to bite. You’ll find fair numbers of perch near the shore, while trout can be had near the lake’s center. Keep in mind, though, that because Higgins Lake’s waters are deeper, it tends to ice over more slowly than many other inland lakes you’ll fish. To give the lake a chance to freeze, you’ll want to wait until January to visit Higgins, but December can be safe if it’s been a particularly cold winter.
Mille Lacs Lake – Minnesota
Minnesota is home to over 10,000 lakes, giving it 10,000 ice fishing locations. Of these 10,000, Mille Lacs Lake is the one to put at the top of your destinations list. Mille Lacs is home to a large numbers of walleye, rock bass, northern pike, perch, muskie and smallmouth bass. Furthermore, the lake spans over 132,000 acres, so finding a spot to fish won’t be a problem. Bonus Tip: You’ll also find several resorts, fishing shack rentals and guides in the area to get started on the right foot.
Oneidea Lake – New York
Known as the Walleye Lake of New York, Oneidea’s waters span over 51,000 acres, offering more fish per acre than any other lake in the state. You can commonly reel in big perch and walleye, especially between 10 am and 4 pm, the warmest part of the day. By the time January arrives, too, the ice on Oneidea is typically thick enough for snowmobiles. Bonus Tip: Locals will tell you to set up your shelter in the Cleveland Bar and Willard Isle areas of Oneidea.