7 best fish to catch on the winter

Keep in mind that fishing in the winter requires a different approach than warm weather. Fish change their habits, they behave differently, they travel to different parts of the water. It's easy to throw a line into the water while sitting outside, but do you know if you're targeting the best winter fish?

winter fishing


To catch winter bluegill, use an ultralight freshwater fishing rod and jigs tipped with minnows or waxworms around weed beds close to the periods of dawn and dusk. They are one of the most widespread panfish species in the country and one of the easiest fish to catch for beginners.



Found primarily in lakes or ponds in the Northeast and Midwest, yellow perch are active feeders throughout winter and are often caught while ice fishing. These panfish are an ideal target for families and kids since they are willing to take most any natural bait as well as artificial lures or flies.



While most fish slow down in the winter, these guys have an adaptation that makes them even more active during the coldest weather. If you’ve ever been ice fishing, you know that pike is the target most of the time.



Use small jigs or minnows in clear ponds, natural lakes and reservoirs with plenty of vegetation when targeting black crappie. Crappie are often most active throughout the cooler months of the year, so winter is one of the best times to target them in the eastern half of the country.



Walleye are commonly found throughout the Midwest all the way up to the Mid-Atlantic. When the temperature drops, they maintain a decent level of activity, and you can find them almost anywhere. I’d recommend a slow jig along the shoreline and near rocky ledges. You can catch walleye all winter long.



These guys are typically the pests of the water in the Spring and Summer but come wintertime, you’ll find that they fill in the gaps quite nicely between catches of the more desirable fish. It’s not typical that I enjoy seeing a pickerel at the end of my line, but when you’re freezing your butt off outside, it’s nice to catch something.



If you can find a river-run reservoir within a close drive from home, the best winter strategy is to fish the deeper holes that also have vegetation or some form of cover. Use bottom-oriented freshwater fishing presentations like slip rigs and split-shot rigs.


Check which fish species is around you, and go to enjoy fishing!