By Bob Jensen

As we get farther into the ice fishing season, it becomes important that we vary our methods for catching fish a little bit. Early in the season, when snow cover was light and the ice was thin, it was a good idea to sit on a spot for awhile. Now that the ice is thicker and has some snow on it, and the fish have been worked over some, in many bodies of water it's a good idea to keep moving if you want to catch more fish through the ice. Here are some ideas as to how you can be more successful with your ice fishing right now and for the next few weeks.


Find the fish, give'em what they want, and you'll catch'em through the ice.​

During the first few weeks of the ice-fishing season, the fish are kind of spooked. They've got lots of activity and noise directly overhead, so their being spooked is totally understandable.

Now, they're not so spooky. The thicker ice and snow cover hides and quiets the movement and noise from above, and they've probably also become accustomed to the overhead noise. An angler can move around more, and the ability to go to the fish instead of waiting for the fish to come to you is very helpful.

More and more, ice-anglers are finding that what we used to call "permanent shelters" are great for ice-fishing. However, these "permanent shelters" don't have to be so "permanent" anymore. The Ice Castle shelter that we use is easy to move, so it's very easy to move from spot to spot to find the bite.

However, I still like to take a portable shelter with me, even when we are fishing from the larger house. I like to fish in the Ice Castle, but I also like to pop some holes around it. I can fish a large area and chase the fish more aggressively, but I can also go into the larger shelter to warm up, have a snack, and keep fishing while I do so. I find that as the years pass, I enjoy the camaraderie that goes with ice-fishing, and that camaraderie is enhanced when everyone spends a few minutes together in the Ice Castle.

I've used a lot of different portable shelters in the past. The folks at Clam seem to keep adding features to their shelters that make them very nice to fish from and easy to pull from hole to hole.

Here's how we do it when we start at our first hole: If we don't see any activity, we move, and we keep moving until we find activity. Sonar will help you catch a lot more fish since it will show you if fish are below your hole. If the fish are there, you stick around a little longer. If no fish show up in five minutes, maximum, it's time to try another hole. Recently, I've been using a Vexilar FL-12 most often. It's a basic unit, but does a very nice job for what I need it to do.

Holes should be drilled at different depths, and at different locations on a structure. Some should be near the drop-off, some up on the top of the structure and some at the base of the structure. If you're fishing a popular structure that sees lots of fishing activity, you should spend more time out near the edge of the area away from the fishing activity. That's where the best biters will usually be.

If you see activity on the sonar but can't get bit, try different colors, sizes, and actions until you find what the fish want.

If you're on good water, if you keep moving, and if you give the fish what they want, you're going to catch more fish, and that, along with the camaraderie, is a great reason to go ice-fishing.

To see the newest episodes of Fishing the Midwest television go to

If you do Facebook, please give us a look for current fishing stuff.