5 Best Winter Fishing Destinations in the US

Winter fishing is a unique and rewarding experience that offers a different perspective on the sport. While many anglers hang up their gear in the colder months, some relish the opportunity to fish on frozen lakes and rivers. The quiet solitude of a winter landscape, the thrill of the catch, and the chance to catch species unavailable in warmer months make winter fishing a special experience.

Choosing the right destination is crucial for a successful winter fishing trip. The right location can provide access to abundant fish populations and comfortable amenities. 

Let’s explore the five best winter fishing destinations in the US.

Whether you’re a seasoned angler or just starting out, these destinations offer unique winter fishing experiences that will create lasting memories.


5 Best Winter Fishing Destinations in the US

  1. Lake Champlain, Vermont
  2. Lake of the Woods, Minnesota
  3. Key West, Florida
  4. Devils Lake, North Dakota
  5. Lake Winnebago, Wisconsin


1: Lake Champlain, Vermont

Lake Champlain is considered one of the best fisheries in the US. It is a popular fishing destination year-round but particularly attractive in winter. The lake is located between the Adirondack Mountains of New York and the Green Mountains of Vermont, offering a picturesque backdrop for your winter fishing adventure.

The lake is home to various fish species active in the winter months, including lake trout, walleye, northern pike, and perch. Anglers can access the lake from various points along the shore or by renting a fish house.

To increase your chances of a successful catch, hiring a guide familiar with the lake and its habits is recommended. Additionally, it’s important to dress warmly and bring plenty of supplies, as the weather can be unpredictable.

Lake Champlain is a great winter fishing destination for those who want to experience the beauty of Vermont while also enjoying the thrill of the catch.


2: Lake of the Woods, Minnesota

Located in northern Minnesota, Lake of the Woods is a popular winter fishing destination known for its abundance of walleye, sauger, and northern pike. The lake is also home to a thriving population of perch and crappie, making it an ideal spot for anglers of all skill levels.

Ice fishing is a popular activity on Lake of the Woods, with many visitors renting fish houses equipped with heaters and other amenities. The lake is also home to various resorts and lodges that offer accommodations and guided fishing trips.

It’s a great place to catch various fish species while experiencing the beauty of Minnesota’s Northwoods.


3: Key West, Florida

While many winter fishing destinations are located in colder climates, Key West, Florida, offers a warm and sunny alternative. The winter months are an ideal time to fish in Key West, as the water is clear and the fish are plentiful.

Key West is known for its diverse population of fish species, including tarpon, permit, bonefish, and barracuda. Anglers can fish from shore, on a boat, or by booking a guided fishing trip.

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To maximize your chances of a successful catch, you must use the right bait and equipment for your target type. It’s also important to be aware of local fishing regulations and to practice catch-and-release fishing to preserve the area’s natural resources.

Enjoy the Keys’ beauty while reeling in various fish species. Make your winter fishing trip an unforgettable experience by visiting Key West.

4: Devils Lake, North Dakota

Devils Lake in North Dakota is a popular winter fishing destination known for its abundance of perch, walleye, and northern pike. The lake is located in the northern part of the state, and the winter season is a great time to fish as the ice is thick enough to support fishing activities.

The lake is home to many outfitters and fishing guides who offer fish house rentals and guided trips. These fish houses have heaters and other amenities, making it a comfortable experience even in the cold winter.

Use a fish finder or flasher to locate schools of fish to increase your chances of success. In addition, it’s important to dress warmly and bring plenty of supplies.

Devils Lake is a great winter fishing destination known for its stunning sunsets, making it a memorable experience for all who visit.

5: Lake Winnebago, Wisconsin

Lake Winnebago is a popular winter fishing destination located in eastern Wisconsin. The lake is known for its abundance of walleye, perch, and white bass, making it a prime location for ice fishing.

The lake has many access points and outfitters that provide fish houses, gear rentals, and guided trips. Additionally, the lake hosts an annual sturgeon spearing season, which draws many visitors to the area.

Enjoy the serene beauty of Wisconsin while casting your line and catching various fish species. Lake Winnebago is a must-visit destination for any avid winter angler.


Winter Fishing Essential Gear Guide:

Winter fishing requires specialized gear to handle the unique challenges of fishing in cold temperatures and on frozen lakes. Here is a guide to the essential gear you will need for your next winter fishing trip.

Ice auger: An ice auger is necessary to drill a hole in the ice for fishing. There are hand-powered and gas-powered models available. Choose a size appropriate for the size of fish you plan to catch.

Ice fishing rod and reel: An ice fishing rod is shorter and more sensitive than a traditional fishing rod and can detect subtle bites from fish. Pair your rod with an ice fishing reel with a smooth drag system that can handle heavier lines. A baitcaster combo is a versatile option for winter fishing, as it allows you to easily handle different types of lures and baits. The best baitcaster combo for winter fishing should have a low gear ratio, be durable, and have good sensitivity.

Warm clothing: Dressing in layers is essential for staying warm and comfortable during winter fishing. Start with a moisture-wicking base layer, add an insulating layer, and finish with a waterproof and windproof jacket and pants. Remember insulated boots and gloves.

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Fish finder or flasher: A fish finder or flasher can help you locate schools of fish beneath the ice. A fish finder uses sonar technology to detect fish, while a flasher displays real-time information on a screen.

Tackle box: A small tackle box with a few different types of lures and hooks is all you need for winter fishing. Try jigs, spoons, and small live baits like minnows or wax worms.

Ice shelter: An ice shelter can provide warmth and protection from the wind while you fish. Choose a portable model that is easy to set up and take down.

With the right gear, winter fishing can be a fun and rewarding experience. Be sure to invest in quality gear designed for cold weather and can handle the unique challenges of fishing on the ice.



Winter fishing can be a rewarding experience for anglers looking for a unique and exciting adventure. From the frozen lakes to the sunny shores, there are plenty of destinations to choose from that offer a variety of fish species and breathtaking natural landscapes.

When planning your winter fishing trip, it’s important to do your research and prepare accordingly. This includes packing warm clothing, bringing appropriate gear, and being aware of local fishing regulations.

You can enjoy a memorable fishing experience while exploring the great outdoors by visiting one of these five winter fishing destinations. Whether you’re a seasoned angler or a beginner, these destinations offer something for everyone. So grab your fishing rod, bundle up, and prepare for an unforgettable winter fishing adventure!

Author's Note: This information was accurate when it was published, but can change without notice. Please be sure to confirm all rates and details directly with the company in question before planning your trip.

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