There’s nothing more fun than to find an ice-covered lake, carve out a hole, drop a lure, kick back and enjoy the day ice fishing. Reeling in a trophy fish from beneath the frozen surface is an experience unlike any other, and there’s plenty of excellent places to explore throughout our great country.
Keep in mind — with your private pilot’s certification, you can spend the day, weekend or the whole winter exploring the top ice fishing destinations in the country. It’s as simple as tossing your fishing pole and tackle box into your plane’s hold, entering your coordinates and taking off towards your ideal spot.
So, if you’re looking for exciting ice fishing destinations, we think that you’ll enjoy these 10 places. Keep reading to find out more!
1) Devil’s Lake, North Dakota
Nearest airport: Devil’s Lake Regional Airport (DVL)
More information: Devil’s Lake
If you’re looking for unbelievable fishing this winter, head to Devil’s Lake in North Dakota, where you’re likely to come home with a trio of trophy perch, walleye and pike in a single trip.
Beyond the quality of fish, one of the biggest advantages of fishing in North Dakota is the fact that it provides anglers with an extra-long winter season — you can usually count on safe ice from the middle of December to late March. Plus, it only costs $45 for a season-long non-resident fishing license in the state, so it’s incredibly affordable.
2) Lake Champlain, Vermont
Nearest airport: Franklin County Airport (FSO)
More information: Lake Champlain
Lake Champlain in northern Vermont is an ice fisherman’s dream. With a wide range of sizes, numbers and variety of species, from northern pike to lake trout to salmon to jumbo panfish, you’re bound to reel in more than a few whoppers. Ice fishing season on Lake Champlain normally starts around early to middle December when the north end of the lake freezes over. Most anglers begin to set up at locations such as the Veterans’ Memorial Bridge connecting Rouses Point, New York and Alburg, Vermont.
3) Slave Lake – Northwest Territories, Canada
Nearest airport: Slave Lake Airport (YZH)
More information: Great Slave Lake
Some of the best ice fishing in North America is at Great Slave Lake, one of Canada’s coldest and largest lakes. As the second-largest lake in all of Canada (and ninth-largest in the world), anglers have plenty of water to explore, in pursuit of the big one. Here, you can expect to catch all types of fish, including massive walleye, perch and bluegill. Just remember to slip on an extra pair of longjohns and perhaps a thick coat.
4) Kenai National Wildlife Refuge, Alaska
Nearest airport: Kenai Municipal Airport (ENA)
More information: Kenai Wildlife Refuge
Kenai National Wildlife Refuge is a hot-spot for ice fishing several months out of the year. And, it’s completely accessible by vehicle. Unlike other popular ice fishing lakes in the state, which anglers can only access by snowmobile, the wildlife refuge is easy to explore by way of car or truck. Whether you’re trying to catch northern pike, arctic grayling, chum salmon or Dolly Varden, you should try to experience this special place the Dena’ina people call “Yaghanen”, or the “good land”, at least once in your life.
5) Deadwood, South Dakota
Nearest airport: Sturgis Municipal Airport (KTWT)
More information: Deadwood
While Deadwood may be rich in history from the days of the gold rush and the Wild West, the area also boasts impressive ice fishing spots. For instance, you can go after lake trout on Pactola Reservoir or perch on Sheridan Lake or Deerfield Lake. Plus, there are plenty of other things to do for those fishermen who want to get out of the cold — from top-notch dining and entertainment to museums, tours and even historic casinos.
6) Glacier National Park, Montana
Nearest airport: Glacier Park International Airport (FCA)
More information: Glacier National Park
For serious ice fishing enthusiasts, Glacier National Park in Montana should be at the top of your list. The area, over a million acres, has many lakes that are popular with ice fishermen. For instance, at the largest natural freshwater lake in the western United States, Flathead Lake, you can expect to bring home trophy-sized whitefish, lake trout, yellow purch and cutthroat trout. Because of how big the lake is, it doesn’t freeze over entirely, however, its many bays become frozen enough for ideal ice fishing.
7) Lake of the Woods, Minnesota
Nearest airport: Warroad Memorial Airport
More information: Lake of the Woods
While Lake of the Woods may be known as the “Walleye Capital of the World,” there are so many types of fish to catch, like sturgeon, muskie, sauger, crapie, rock bass and more. Within its 65,000 miles of shoreline that spans the Canadian border–a large portion even stretches north into Ontario and Manitoba–anglers will have plenty of opportunity to fish for multiple types of species throughout an endless amount of locations. No matter where you decide to go, this Minnesota ice fishing destination will provide an unforgettable experience, so try to visit at least once in your life.
8) Carson Pass, California
Nearest airport: Lake Tahoe Airport (KTVL)
More information: Carson Pass
While you may not think of California as a hot ice fishing destination, there are in fact several lakes that freeze in the winter in Northern California that provide an excellent place to drop a line. Specifically, Silver Lake and Caples Lake in Carson Pass offer some of the best ice fishing in the Golden State, particularly if you are on the hunt for huge trout. In fact, a record 22-pound mackinaw trout was pulled from Silver Lake in 2002, so you never know what may be lurking beneath the surface!
9) Houghton Lake, Michigan
Nearest airport: Houghton Lake State Airport (5Y2)
More information: Houghton Lake
Thanks to how shallow Houghton Lake is, it’s one of the first lakes in the lower half of the state to freeze and offer safe ice fishing conditions. Plus, it’s the largest inland lake at 20,000 acres, meaning you’ll have plenty of perfect spots to set up a shanty, carve a hole and sink a lure. Generally, you’ll find a variety of bluegills, walleye, crappie and sunfish throughout the winter season.
10) Eleven Mile State Park, Colorado
Nearest airport: Colorado Springs Airport (COS)
More information: Eleven Mile State Park
If you’re on the lookout for kokanee salmon, cutthroat trout, rainbow trout or brown trout, Eleven Mile State Park in central Colorado is the site of a stunning 3,400-acre reservoir full of impressive trophy-level fish. This popular body of water is especially known for large rainbow trout, often measuring in the 14-20 inch range.
Do You Want to Reach the Best Ice Fishing Destinations in the U.S.?
Whether you’re someone that wants to learn to fly or a certified pilot that wants to further their education, Inflight Pilot Training can help you gain the freedom to explore these marvelous ice fishing destinations and anywhere else you want to go.
We are a leading flight instruction company serving Minneapolis, St. Paul and the surrounding areas. With a reputable training program and an extensive roster of highly skilled, certified flight instructors, we can give you the freedom to fly to the greatest destinations in the country.
For additional information on Inflight training programs, contact us today or call (952) 698-3000.