What Is The Best Bait For Ice Fishing?

what bait is best for ice fishing

Eventually, the primary concern you would get stumbled across going ice fishing is:

Determining the sort of bait that works perfectly for ice fishing.

You may have previously gone ice fishing with your friends for several times. But initially, your sole aim was to experience the adventure and have a great time with your friends, and which is too obvious for one going ice fishing for the very first time.

However, of late, you are seriously considering adding some prized catches along with the fun of ice fishing, and therefore you are here on the webpage addressing some reliable answers to your queries.

Since you have already been to ice fishing expeditions before, you should already know the basics of the sport.But, you never spared a thought on what kind of bait works best for ice fishing.

Furthermore, you might also are aware of the sort of different lures, but yet are unsure if these lures are the best option for you or not.

Since we are going to help you choose the best that works, so you can take a chill pill now and enjoy reading the article.

Baits vs. Lures

Probably, you have learned, lures work best for fishing, but when ice fishing is taken into account, the live baits are the best option.

Basically, several conditions that determine the approach of catching fish. For example, you must consider the environmental factors, the species of fish you are targeting, your level of expertise in catching fish and the location.

Baits are ideal for novice anglers, in exceptionally frigid temperatures (ice fishing), when you are aiming for vegetarian and omnivorous species, in discolored and muddy water, and when you are adamant not to return empty-handed. Lures, on the other hand, works well on clearer water, comparatively warm weather, and artificial water bodies.

The pros and cons of baits

Here are some of the advantages of using live baits:

  • Lures can be damn cheap, and furthermore, if you manage to make or catch on your own, you can obtain the bait for free.
  • When it comes to tricking a fish, live baits are the perfect solution.
  • You also have the option of re-utilizing the bait for future use.
  • Lastly, as already mentioned, live bait is invariably going to attract almost all the species of fishes; therefore your chances of bagging fishes are more bright.

However, when you are planning to use live baits, you will be needed to make a lot of preparations. Now, we leave it to you, to decide if you think these to be the cons of using baits.

  • You have to make arrangements to preserve the bait, either by refrigerating it or on the environment where it thrives well. Else, all your efforts will straightly go in vain.
  • Are you ready to mingle with dirt; visiting unmanned places and fiddle with danger? Yes, you might have to do so in order to catch live bait. For example, you got to explore beehives, try to catch houseflies, and to get larvae of bees from their hives. Each of these, carry a lot of hassles.
  • Yikes! Baits will have a foul smell, and when you are out for ice fishing, your clothes, gears, and hands will also become smelly.
  • It’s great if you have the willpower and can withstand the stinky smell. Something hooks to your bait, and lo and presto! You find it to be a severely under-sized species of fish. Well, that is bound to happen, as live baits attract all kinds of fishes. So, be prepared for occasional disappointments.

Nevertheless, bury the downsides of using live bait, as this is a must when you are ice fishing.

Ice fishing is different from freshwater fishing

For those who take a lot of pride in their fresh-water fishing expeditions might get severely frustrated when trying to ice fish. The very concept of fishing is different in the latter.

Previously, we already highlighted the differences between the baits and lures. Generally, fresh-water fishing is done with artificial lures primarily which will not yield satisfactory dividends during ice fishing. Thus, the preparations have to be entirely different.

In below sections, we are going to tell you about the best baits for ice fishing and how to use them correctly.

The best baits for ice fishing:

1. The Waxworms

The wax worms which are the larvae of the bee moth have always been considered the best live bait for ice fishing. These wax worms are predominant in the deserted beehives. You can identify them by their cream-colored body, and
their sizes vary from ½ to 1 inch.

It is available on Amazon.

2. Spikes

The blowfly maggots or houseflies are the next best choice for ice fishing baits.

If you are unable to distinguish them from the wax worms due to the similarity in color, the size will help you to do so. Spikes will be smaller in comparison to the wax worms and have a hardened skin. They are ideal for using as baits as they will seldom tear off the hook.

3. Goldenrod Grubs

Remember, we told you previously that you might have to mingle with dirt? Now is the time.

Yes, you guessed it right, the goldenrod grubs can make effective ice fishing baits. However, if you thought you could easily buy them from the bait shops, you will be in for a disappointment.

You have to make an effort to collect them as these species thrive inside the galls or the swellings on the stems of goldenrod plants.

Ideally, winters are the best period for collecting these galls and remove the grubs according to your requirements. The bluegills, crappies and pumpkin seeds, and additionally perch and trout relish on these grubs.

4. Mousies

Many people also refer to these mousies as rat-tailed maggots. These are the larvae of bee flies. They appear tiny, not more than ½ inch long to be precise and are tan-colored.

You will easily find them in stagnant water. But, be careful when you attach them to the hook. The skins of these rat-tailed maggots are very delicate thus they can easily tear off from the hook.

5. Eurolarvae

These euro larvae have a drastic resemblance to the spikes. However, they appear in varied colors. They are European blowfly maggots. Owing to their size, you can use more than three to four of them on your hook.

6. Batfish

There are many in this category, which you can use as live bait. The everyday choices are minnows, chubs, shiners, smelt and small suckers. These baits are very effective when you are trying to catch species of pike, perch, bass, walleyes, pickerel, and trout.

The type of fish for using as live bait can vary depending on the type of fish you are aiming to catch. If you carefully select the bait shop, you can find supersized sucker minnows which will help your cause a lot.

Instructions for using the live bait for ice fishing

Familiarized with the baits? Great, but the job is not quite done yet.

You need to understand the correct way to attach the bait. Seriously, you do not need to be a so-called pro to do this. Just go through these steps mentioned below, and you’ll find yourself all up and ready to hit the spot.

Before we begin, ensure you are ready with the fishing rod and reel, fishing hooks, sinkers, and bobbers.

  • Take out your live bait from the place you preserved it. The worms are the best baits for individuals who are just starting their ice fishing expedition. The bait can be used along with a hook, a couple of sinkers and a bobber.
  • The live bait should be wrapped around the hook at least three times. The arrangement should be as such that the hook pierces the center of the bait’s body on the completion of the wraps.
  • The next step involves handling the remaining part of the bait’s body over the hook and pushing it yet again through its body. Now, get a sinker attached to the line which should ideally be 6 to 8 inches above the bait. Lastly, fix a bobber to the line. The length should be appropriate depending on the depth of the fishing site.
  • For those who have some experience in the ice fishing ventures, they can use minnows as live bait. You need to hook the lower jaw of the minnow; this is to ensure the barb sticks out. Be careful when you do this, as under no circumstances it should limit the ability of the minnow to move.
  • If you are using a crayfish, then hook the fish from the middle so that the hook gets through. The barb, in this case, should also be sticking out. The sinkers are then needed to be set in the same way we mentioned above.


Dead easy! Isn’t it? You can start preparing your bait for ice fishing right away if you are super adventurous. Else, you always have the option of visiting the bait shops.

Now, that you are familiar about the best baits for your ice fishing expedition, be optimistic, you are going to bring back a heavier bucket loaded with fish from your next ice fishing outing.

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