How to Guide for Ice Fishing: Part IV: November 28, 2023

Welcome back! If you missed last week, this is the fourth part of our ice fishing series. The Brainerd Lakes Area offers many year-round outdoor opportunities, and ice fishing is definitely one of those great opportunities. So far, we have covered the “Buddy System” or fishing solo, apparel/clothing/gear, ice fishing rods/reels/line, electronics and fish houses. Feel free to let us know if there’s a topic you’re interested in.

Species and Tactics for Early Ice

Let’s talk about panfish. Panfish consist of crappies, bluegills/sunfish, rock bass, perch and more; though we’ll primarily focus on crappies, sunfish fish and perch. These species are commonly found in shallow water or weedy bays which are usually the first areas to freeze, including small, shallow lakes.


  • Locations: Large weed flats, weedy bays with a moderate depth/deeper holes, weeds near deep water entering a bay, muddy basin under 25ft
  • Depth: 5-12ft average
  • Tactics: small ice jig/wax worm or 5mm Tungsten jig/red spike jigging near or in weeds 2ft from bottom. Drill multiple holes in and around weeds to find fish, jig for 10-15 minutes in each hole before moving to the next location.


  • Locations: deep bays, green cabbage/weed beds adjacent to holes or deep water near a bay, suspended in the basin
  • Depth: 8-15ft or 12-25ft (suspended depth)
  • Tactics: 1/16oz or 1/8oz Lindy Quiver spoons or Frostee Spoon tipped with wax worms; 7mm Tungsten jig/Mister Twister Sassy Stingum. Jig above schools or mid-range in the water column in clear bodies of water to draw fish in.


  • Locations: sandy bottom areas, bays with sporadic weeds/hard bottom
  • Depth: 7-16ft
  • Tactics: small tungsten/5mm jigs tipped with red spikes, small spoons (1/32oz tipped with wax worm), small shiver minnow/crystal reaper. Jig throughout the water column, make frequent contact with the bottom to stir up the bottom and often triggering bites from larger perch.

Gear tips are purely opinions, though they are based on experiences and often tend to lean toward individuals’ preferences; keep this in mind when searching for gear and having your own experiences on ice. We will have more early ice tactics for species the Brainerd Lakes Area and Mille Lacs Minnesota next week, and hopefully a report for the ice growth in the area as well!

Remember to look into Ice Safety Tips by the MN DNR regarding checking ice for safe travel! If you’re wondering where and how to fish, tune in to Visit Brainerd for weekly fishing reports by Hawg Hunterz Guide Service LLC! As always, have fun, stay safe and Happy Hawg Hunting!!

Hawg Hunterz Guide Service