The Best Live Baits for Ice Fishing

Ice fishing is a popular activity among anglers, and choosing the right bait is essential for success. Live bait is often the best option for ice fishing, as it can attract a variety of fish. Minnows, waxworms, barbs, wigglers, and mice are all great live bait options. Each type of bait has its own advantages and disadvantages, so it's important to understand which one is best for the species you're trying to catch.

Minnows are one of the most popular live baits for ice fishing. They are a natural food source for many game fish, and their lively action attracts fish to the hook. Minnows come in a variety of sizes, so it's important to have a variety on hand to see which size works best. They can be hooked through the lips, under the dorsal fin, or through the head.

Hooking them through the lips can inhibit their breathing, so it's best to hook them under the dorsal fin or through the head. Keeping a supply of minnows alive can be a logistical challenge, so it's best to buy fresh minnows every day for the best quality. Barbs, also known as silvery undulating, are fly larvae and are smaller in size than minnows. They have tough skin on the outside, so they stay hooked well.

Barbs work well for attracting sunfish, blue gills, and other smaller fish. They can also be used to attract larger fish by putting several spikes on a single hook. Waxworms are larvae of bee moths and are also known as waxy. They are not a natural diet for game fish, but they are still attractive to fish due to their sight and smell in cold water.

Mice are also known as rat-tail worms and are larvae of bees. They have tails that make them look like mice. Mice work well for attracting larger fish due to their size and structure. Wigglers are ephemeral larvae and work well for attracting smaller fish such as perch and crappie.

Cut bait is another option for ice fishing. This involves cutting up a larger fish into pieces and using it as bait. The pieces can be hooked onto a hook or dropped into an ice hole to attract schools of fish. This process is also called “chumming” and works well due to the extra scent it gives off in icy water.

When choosing live bait for ice fishing, it's important to consider the species you're trying to catch and what type of bait will work best for them. Minnows, barbs, waxworms, mice, wigglers, and cut bait are all great options that can help you catch your target species.

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