Popular Ice Fishing Lakes In New Jersey
Guide to favorite fish species at top ice fishing lakes in the state.
The best ice fishing lakes in NJ include Swartswood Lake, Lake Hopatcong and Lake Wawayanda. The most popular species are yellow perch, chain pickerel and crappie. The purpose of this page is to share basic information about the best ice fishing lakes in the state, plus the species found in each lake. See a list of lakes and species below.
Ice fishing is as basic as fishing gets. During winter, it is popular here in the state. Aside from the tools one uses to create a hole in the ice, all other gear is very basic. A simple rod, reel, line and hook or lure is all you need. Lures, live bait and prepared bait are options, depending on the fish species in the lake or pond.
Ice fishing is a popular winter activity in New Jersey, offering anglers the chance to target various fish species while enjoying the frozen lakes and reservoirs. Although ice fishing is a specialized form of fishing, it can be highly rewarding for those willing to brave the cold and venture onto the ice.
Ice Fishing Tips & Techniques Video
Several fish species can be targeted during ice fishing in New Jersey. Some popular species include yellow perch, crappie, pickerel, chain pickerel, walleye, and trout. These fish tend to be more active during the winter months and can be found in many of the state's lakes and reservoirs.
When it comes to ice fishing methods, anglers often use small, lightweight equipment to maneuver through the ice and efficiently catch fish. Ice augers are commonly used to drill holes in the ice, allowing anglers to access the water below. Tip-ups and ice fishing rods are used to present bait to the fish, with live bait such as minnows or waxworms being popular choices. Anglers may also use jigs and other artificial baits to entice the fish.
Safety is of utmost importance when ice fishing in New Jersey. It's crucial to check the ice thickness and ensure it is safe and stable before venturing onto it. Ice should be at least four inches thick for a single person and even thicker for larger groups or vehicles. Wearing appropriate clothing and gear for cold weather conditions, including insulated boots, warm clothing layers, and waterproof gloves, is essential. Additionally, it's advisable to fish with a partner and have safety equipment like ice picks or ice cleats on hand.
New Jersey's Department of Environmental Protection provides guidelines and safety recommendations for ice fishing, including updated ice thickness reports and regulations specific to each water body. It's important to follow these guidelines and stay informed about current ice conditions before heading out.
Ice fishing in New Jersey offers a unique angling experience and the chance to enjoy the winter scenery while pursuing a variety of fish species. With the right equipment, knowledge of safe practices, and adherence to regulations, ice anglers can have a memorable and successful ice fishing adventure in the Garden State.
Top Ice Fishing Lakes & Species
There are numerous places to go ice fishing in the state. Here are a list of some of the proven, best destinations.
Click the images for species details.
This is a great way to get the kids to go outdoors in winter, connect with nature and learn to fish. The first consideration when attempting to go ice fishing, is safety. Make sure the ice is safe, and that you are prepared should an accident occur. Dress to stay warm - it's better to remove extra jackets than be cold and miserable. Be aware that the ice can be slippery, and falls can be dangerous.
Click here for ice fishing basics, including details on finding the best place to fish, tips for cutting a hole, basic tackle, bait, lures, depths to fish, safety, shanty's, tents and huts.
Best ice fishing method for crappie, bluegill, perch and sunfish
Horizontal jigs and spoon-type baits are the go-to baits for crappie, either tipped with a minnow, wax worm or prepared baits often triggers more bites. Jigs work better close to the bottom, spoons tend to work better higher in the water column. If options allow, 15 to 30 feet is the most common depth. Adjust as necessary. See additional info on ice fishing for crappie, perch and sunfish.
Best ice fishing method for walleye
Four basic lures are all you need. Ice jigs are minnow shaped with a tail that causes them to fall in a circular patter. Drop them to the desired depth (often to the bottom), then lift the bait a few feet to let it fall on slack line. Spoons: Metal slabs in chrome or a wide array of colors are used to jig up-and-down mimicking a dying baitfish. Lipless crankbaits: Fish like a spoon. Jigs: Use slightly larger jigs than for crappie, preferably with a flashing blade attached. Tip with live bait and let it sit, up a ways from the bottom typically 1 to 3 feet. A general tip is to always keep your bait off the bottom, one to 5 feet is an ideal place to start. Additional information about ice fishing for walleye.
Best ice fishing method for trout
Trout focus on small forage fish in winter, so baits that flash silver - jigs or spoons, do well in attracting trout. Dual rods, where legal, are very effective. One rod with a jig/live bait set up on a tip-up, the second with a spoon fished up and down pretty aggressively. See more detail about ice fishing for trout.
Best ice fishing method for bass
Bass are often found closer to the shoreline than schooling fish. Fish the same as other species, using a bit larger baits and slightly heavier line. Be prepared to battle using your drag if you hook a big one. Additional information about ice fishing for largemouth and smallmouth bass.
Best ice fishing method for catfish
Fishing techniques mirror those for bass and crappie. More emphasis is places on added baits (minnows, worms, prepared bait), and location can be very important. Find a ledge or point that is in 20 foot range on top, dropping to 30 feet or more directly off the side. See more information on ice fishing for catfish.
Best ice fishing method for pike and musky
Live bait, shiners and sunfish, are a great way to attract these big fellahs, assuming local law allows their use. Heavier line, steel leaders, bigger hooks and stronger tip-ups are in order. See more information on ice fishing for pike and musky.
Click here for a New Jersey Fishing License.
New Jersey Map
States with notable ice fishing.