Ice Fishing in Missouri

Published on: Dec. 13, 2013

insulates it, shielding the surface of the lake from cold temperatures. The best ice is hard, clear ice you can see through.


When cold temperatures do come, the first thing an ice angler needs is something to make a hole in the ice. Augers, axes, and ice picks can all do the job of making a 6- to 8-inch diameter hole. Making a larger hole might seem like a good idea, but I would advise against it since wider holes have the tendency to attract the boots of anglers’ feet, and wet feet in the winter time will ruin a fishing trip rather quickly. Six- to 8-inch holes are plenty wide enough to fit even the biggest of Missouri’s panfish. Although expensive power augers are available from many retailers, affordable hand-held augers are all that are necessary in Missouri since ice thickness rarely gets more than 12 inches, even in the harshest of winters in the northern part of the state.

The most common ice fishing tackle includes a small, 2- to 3-foot jigging stick with an ultra-light reel, very light line, and small 1/64-ounce jigs. Ice fishing poles can be homemade setups assembled from broken gear, cheaper plastic ice fishing rod and reels, or more expensive rod and reel combos. Check all your usual outdoor catalogs for the latest.

Throw your rods in that extra 5-gallon bucket you have in the garage, and you have yourself a gear transporter, a place to throw your fish, and a seat — all in one.

For bait, most successful anglers use live bait, such as wax worms, which are the small white larvae of the greater wax moth, and small minnows like fatheads and shiners. Wax worms can be hard to find some years because the ice-fishing season varies in duration from year to year. However, bait shops can order them for you, or there are many online stores. Adventurous anglers can also raise their own wax worms at home. Wax worms are hardy creatures and may last you into the spring if care is taken. Leftovers will work during the spring just as well as on the ice. Other popular bait options are Berkley power bait nibbles, Gulp! scented products, jigging spoons, jigging Rapalas, or very small plastics. Always keep in mind that using the smallest presentation possible with the lightest line you can find gives you the best shot

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