Winter freshwater fishing

One of the best things about freshwater fishing in winter is that you never know exactly what type of fish you are going to catch. A flasher’s transducers help locate focused schools and specific locations, and baits help narrow the field. There are many species of freshwater fish to catch so it is always a surprise when the fish comes through the hole.

Warm water fish: Some of the best fish to catch in winter are warm water fish. Cold water makes them taste good. So if you are targeting panfish and bass, you should know your feed. In shallows, panfish, perch, and crappie may prefer insects such as waxworms or mayfly larvae and leeches, while in open water they target baitfish. You are likely to find larger wild fish like pike and musk species on the bottom deep as well as throughout the water column when out and about. Drop jigs or live bait like minnows, smelt or salmon eggs on the ground and work them throughout the water column.


Panfish: Bluegill, Sunfish, and Perch
Bass: Largemouth bass, black bass, hybrid striped bass and calico bass
Larger wild fish: pike, muscle lung, pikeperch and sucker, walleye look alike.

Cold water fish: The same trout that prefer deep, cooler, and oxygen-rich water in summer move to shallower areas in winter. This fact makes winter freshwater fishing for trout very different. You can find trout and salmon in sprawling homes, especially if they have soft bottom to look for leeches, insect nymphs, and worms. If your lake doesn’t have soft bottoms, you can find them around natural spots and rock piles or ledges. Inlets and outflows are excellent places as inflows wash food into the lake while outflows concentrate it before it leaves the lake.


Trout: brown, brook, rainbow, lake, tiger
Salmon: landlocked country

Freshwater fishing in winter is a fun game of chance. And when it really counts, there isn’t a single best fish to catch in winter. They’re all fun so grab your fishing license and go before spring!

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Tom Keer

Tom Keer is an award-winning writer living on Cape Cod, Massachusetts. He is a columnist for the Upland Almanac, a contributing writer for Covey Rise magazine, a contributing editor for Fly Rod and Reel and Fly Fish America, and a blogger for the Take Me Fishing program of the Recreational Boating and Fishing Foundation. Keer is a regular contributor to over a dozen outdoor magazines on topics including fishing, hunting, boating, and other outdoor activities. When not fishing, Keer and his family hunt highland birds over their three English setters. His first book, a Fly Fishers Guide to the New England Coast, was published in January 2011. Visit him at or

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