Learn to Ice Fish

Two children fishing through the ice.



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 Events

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.

Check our Calender for upcoming ice fishing events.

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.

Last updated: October 29, 2021

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Contact Info

Mailing Address:

111 E. Kellogg Blvd., Suite 105
Saint Paul, MN 55101


This is the general phone line at the Mississippi River Visitor Center.

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