• Mississippi National River and Recreation Area

    Mississippi

    National River & Recreation Area Minnesota

Learn to Ice Fish

Two boys ice fishing on a snow-covered lake flanked by forested hillsides.

Ice fishing is a quintessential Minnesota winter sport, but learning when, where, and how to ice fish can be daunting. The staff at the Mississippi National River and Recreation Area can help you get started at one of our public or group ice fishing workshops.

Public Ice Fishing Workshops
Participants can try ice fishing, drill a hole, get fishing advice, and learn about Minnesota fish, ice safety, and ice fishing tackle and techniques at one of our public ice fishing workshops. Poles, tackle, and bait are provided. Instruction is provided by experienced ice anglers and NPS Rangers. Participants can warm up in a heated shelter and view the mysterious under-ice world through an underwater camera and learn about the challenging conditions faced by life beneath the ice.

Upcoming Public Workshops-Winter, 2014-2015

Winter Trails Day
Date: Jan 10, 2015
Time: 11:00 am to 4:00 pm
Location: Lake Snelling in Fort Snelling State Park (101 Snelling Lake Road, St. Paul, MN). Park in the lot by the fishing pier or on Picnic Island.

Winter locks us in its icy grip for several months each year and it's time to learn how to enjoy it. Try your hand at ice fishing or take a hike and learn about "Life in the Cold." We'll also be harvesting ice using atntiuque ice saws, tongs, and other equipment while learning about the tradition of ice harvesting in an era before refrigerators. Other organizations will also be here with many other activities. Fishing tackle and bait will be provided. Fishing and ice harvesting will be on Lake Snelling: Look for our big red tent. No fishing license is required, but Fort Snelling State Park will be collecting admission fees. Call Ranger Gordon on the day of the event only at 651-470-8970, if there are any questions about weather or ice safety.

Take a Kid Ice Fishing
Date: January 17, 2015
TIme: 12:00 noon to 3:00 pm
Location: Pickerel Lake in Lilydale Regional Park (approximate address: 999 West River Street, St. Paul)

Try your hand at ice fishing, auger a hole in the ice, and learn about life below the ice through an underwater camera. No license is required for adults accompanied by youth ages 15 and younger. We supply tackle and bait, provide instruction, and drill holes in the ice. This is a great event for families to introduce youth to the equintessential Minnesota sport. Call or write Ranger Gordon for more information at 651-293-8410 (email). Call him on the day of the event at 651-470-8970 for directions, ice conditions, or if you have questions.

Group Ice Fishing Workshops
We also provide ice fishing programs for both youth and adult groups, such as scouting or community centers. Poles, tackle, and bait are provided. Instruction is provided by experienced ice fishing anglers and NPS Rangers. Limit is 50 participants. To set up your own group ice fishing program, use the contact information below

Contact Information
Call 651-293-8410 to schedule an ice fishing outing or for information about upcoming public events.

What should I Expect at a Fishing Workshop?
The day before the event an NPS Ranger will check parking and ice conditions. If conditions force changes to the event, that information will be posted to this webpage the day before the event. If you have questions, please call Ranger Gordon.

There is no such thing as poor weather, just poor clothing…

Dress for the weather and be ready to have some serious fun. Be prepared to walk in deep snow or on wind-swept, slippery ice. Wear insulated boots or over-sized boots with two pairs of thick socks for insulation; wool socks are best. Layered clothing is best. Start with a shirt, sweater or fleece, and then a coat. If you get warm on the ice, it is easy to remove or add a layer. Bring along a warm hat, a scarf, and a pair of mittens or gloves. Wear insulated trousers or ski pants. Some participants will wear two pairs of pants to keep their legs warm. Get creative!

Upon arriving at an ice fishing workshop you will be greeted either in the parking lot or at the shoreline by a NPS Ranger or volunteer. They will provide an introduction, initial instructions, fishing tackle and direct you to the designated fishing area.

Holes are drilled in clusters of three so a family can stay close together and are drilled in advance or upon your arrival. You are welcome to try drilling your own hole with a hand auger-a very good way to warm up!

A Ranger or volunteer will help you set up your tackle, help bait your hook, and offer advice on equipment and fishing technique.

Our ice house is heated and offers a place to warm up, but space is limited to a few individuals at a time. Take some time to talk to a Ranger at the ice house, use the underwater camera, and join the conversation about "Life Under the Ice."

What Fish Might I Catch?

Sunfish (bluegills and pumpkinseeds) are the most commonly caught panfish in Minnesota. They are most often caught on tiny jigs tipped with bait, such as grubs or waxworms. Bait is provided at our programs.

Northern Pike are large predators often taken by ice anglers fishing for other species, but some anglers specifically target pike using tip-ups and minnows. We bring tip-ups to each program to demonstrate their use.

Crappies are caught using ice jigs tipped with waxworms or small minnows.

Largemouth bass are unusual ice fishing catches, but are occasionally caught on jigging poles or on tip-ups.

ICE SAFETY -- Use caution on any ice.

Ice is usually thinner near and over running water, which includes rivers, outlets and inlets of lakes and ponds, and areas near aeration equipment and rotting vegetation. Cloudy ice is weaker than clear ice and ice doesn't form as quickly when it is insulated by snow. These factors--among others--cause ice conditions to vary from year to year, lake to lake, and even in different areas of the same lake. We check ice thickness and safety before each event. See the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources website for an excellent discussion on ice safety.

Did You Know?