Ice Fishing on Leech Lake – Tips and Tricks

Ice Fishing on Leech Lake – Tips and Tricks

November 18, 2016

The first snow of the year offers a stark reminder that summer is gone and winter is arriving in whiteout style, but it also indicates ice fishing on Leech Lake is not far off. It is looking like we will be getting a thick layer of ice this year and if the amazing summer and fall fishing is any indicator, this ice fishing season should be extremely fruitful. It’s time to dig that winter fishing gear out from under whatever pile it has been buried under since the end of last winter and get everything prepped for long days on the ice. In that spirit we would like to share some Leech Lake ice fishing tips for our favorite winter fish, with all those new anglers and those that just need a little refresher, before the season starts.

leech lake ice fishing

Ice fishing for Bass on Leech Lake

Bass may be less active during the winter months but that doesn’t mean you can’t find success fishing for them on the ice. In the winter months bass tend to become extremely lethargic as their metabolism slows with the drop in water temperatures. They aren’t lethargic the entire winter though. Warm and calm periods above the ice will see bass activity below the ice increase drastically. During these active periods bass will often leave the rocky humps they stick to in winter and move into weedy flats or towards the basin edges in the 10 to 25 foot depth range. Headquarters bay and the edges of Moonlight bay often offer the best bass fishing in winter months, and  the immediate vicinity of Leech River can either offer amazing results or not a single bite in a day during the winter, so if you are feeling lucky you may want to try it.

More than the right spot it’s important to have the right equipment for bass fishing in the winter. Tip ups are extremely unlikely to get you a single bite, when it comes to bass. You will want to be using a short rod and a very light line, combined with a very small jig, the larger jigs used in fall will not work during the winter. Combine an extremely small jig with a bit of wax worm and regular lifts and drops to keep bass interested. Bass fishing in winter is perfect for those who want a challenge and like to be more proactive while they are ice fishing, no tip ups when you are bass fishing.

frozen lake mn

Leech Lake Walleye fishing in the winter

Walleye behave much the same as the do in the fall and spring during the winter months. look for them In the basins of Walker Bay and around drops in Agency bay. Walleye, being nice and consistent for anglers year round, giving the best chances to catch Walleye in the low light early mornings and evenings. If you are lucky and the Walleye are extremely active you may be able to get away with a tip up but your best bet will be to use a shortened rod and remain active at the hole. Medium-Small jigs are your best bet for Walleye in the winter, but in less active periods a jigging spoon tipped with bits of minnow can provide great results.

Ice fishing for Walleye on Leech Lake, is certainly less challenging than Bass, but still allows you to be more proactive at the hole, and because the best Walleye fishing is near Walker it’s an easy task to go back into town get lunch and then head back out on the ice.


Ice fishing for pike on Leech Lake

So it’s freezing out or you just want to sit back and enjoy yourself on the ice while the tip up does the work for you, well that’s what northern pike are for. Pike remain extremely active and aggressive compared to most Leech Lake species in the winter.  As the water cools pike will move to the edges of surrounding weed beds or near the deeper edges of bars. Sucker bay and Boy bay often offer the best northern pike populations during the winter months, it is important to find their depth though. Even if you are in the right area if you miss their active depth you will lose out on a lot of hits, so unless you have a camera you will want to drill several holes close together and vary your depths to find that sweet spot.

Catching pike is not the challenging part finding them is, but one you have found them a tip up, a heavy line with a wire leader, and a plain old hook with a with a live minnow will work wonders. So if your in the mood to sit back, relax and watch for the flag to pop, target the areas where northern congregate find their depth and enjoy!

leech lake northern pike


We hope you will find our tips our lead to stellar results and a winter filled with fish fries. You might be asking but what about eelpout!? Well let me ask you something, would you share your eelpout fishing spots and tips? Besides we need to leave some challenge to Ice Fishing on Leech Lake. If our first snow has made thoughts of long days on the ice and freezers full of fish dance through your head, think about reserving your cabin or hotel room before they are all gone. We hope to see you on the ice very soon! Until then, enjoy the snow!



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