Missourians Look To Ice Fish on Ponds And Small Lakes

cold, blowing snow

cold, blowing snow

Although Missouri has undergone a spell of arctic weather, many residents are looking for movement outdoors. Breathing fresh air with possibly some vitamin D sunshine is a surety for boosting morale. This is the perfect time to ice fish. Tory Mason MDC fisheries biologist and ice fisherman, says,

There’s something fun about pulling a fish through a little hole in the ice. Even six-inch bluegills are fun to catch, and they’re the best-eating fish of the year [1].

The MDC(Missouri Department of Conservation) offers suggestions for making the most from your outdoor adventure.

Ice Fishing Differs From Water Fishing

Through ice, bluegills and crappies are the more common catches. However, a channel cat or largemouth bass are not out of the question. In winter, fish prefer insects hatching and emerging from mud at the bottom of ponds. Thus, the best lures are small. Waxworms work well.

In the pond or small lake, drop the bait slowly to the bottom. Raise it slowly until you find the depth of the fish. Fish may reside at the deepest part or near the brush.

What Is Needed?

Ice fishing rods and reels are fun, but not necessary. An auger is needed to cut through the ice. Unless you like standing for hours, a seat of some sort is an added plus.

Ice Depth?

Just because it’s cold outside, doesn’t mean that the ice is safe to tread on. Growing up, I was warned to never be the first one on the ice. On my personal pond, that advice doesn’t work. So here are the ice guidelines for standing water, like a pond or small lake.

Only venture out when there is at least 3 inches of ice. That holds a person. A minimum of 5″ is needed to drive a snowmobile out [2]. For long deep cold, 12″ will allow you to drive a full-size truck out on the ice. One thing to keep in mind. This is actual ice measurements. Ice can be thick enough one night, melt the next, and refreeze somewhat after that.

Keep track of the depths. Also, it’s good to not go on the ice alone, comparable to swimming. If anything should happen, there’s help near or one who can get help.

Remember, this is supposed to be fun. Enjoy Missouri’s short winter season by getting outside and catching fish.



  1. ^https://mdc.mo.gov/newsroom/mdc-offers-ice-fishing-tips-ponds-and-small-lakes (go back  ↩)
  2. ^https://www.wqad.com/article/weather/how-thick-does-ice-need-to-be-to-make-it-safe/526-71e211b7-e6d3-4472-b31d-bd91792b86e9 (go back  ↩)

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