Ice Fishing Rainbow Trout

For many anglers, the cold of winter means the end of fishing season. For some, the rainbow trout ice fishing season is just beginning. Follow these tips to catch more rainbow trout through the ice.


The most important part is to locate where the rainbows are. They will most often be found in shallow areas that are full of their food. Looks for weedy areas and shoals.

You can also look for drop off ledges near flat shoals. Rainbows tend to come near ledges next to weeds to search for food.

Drill your holes in about 3 feet of water. The ideal spot to set up these holes is close to the weed line. The best practice is to drill the holes in the morning because they get spooked easily.

Ice Fishing Tackle

  • 2-3 Foot medium-light or medium-heavy action rod
  • 4-6 pound test monofilament fishing line
  • 8-10 pound monofilament or fluorocarbon leader
  • Spinning reel (typically you don’t need a huge line capacity for rainbows)

Best Rig

For ice fishing, you can use a pretty simple line setup to catch rainbow trout. 1/80 ounce to ⅛ jig tipped with maggots, worms, mayfly, or nymphs works great. Set up a lead shot about 16 to 18 inches above your bait.

Minnows are the best bait if you’re fishing big rainbows in larger lakes. Use a #6 hook with a split shot or lead shot with a bobber or float.


Cold water can be a great time for fishing rainbows. Again, the ideal spot for your hole will be shallow water near the weed line. If your hole is half weed and half not, that can be the perfect spot. You don’t need extremely heavy gear to catch them, nor do you need a complicated line set up. Follow these simple guidelines and you could be in for a great day of fishing.