Just because the lakes and rivers freeze doesn’t mean you have to stop fishing. The best time for ice fishing is right after freezeup while the fish are still active. Once the ice builds to a safe thickness, anglers seek Dolly Varden, burbot, char, coho salmon, sheefish, whitefish and trout.
Before you take the whole family ice fishing, drill a test hole in the ice to check the thickness; 6 inches is a recommended minimum. Watch for overflows and be alert for rotting ice as the spring thaw progresses.
Take with you an auger or ice chisel, an ice skimmer, a tarp (for a windscreen), a heat source, and a safety rope. Also take extra clothes, boots and gloves.
The leading cause of death in Alaska is cold water near drowning. Know all you can about cold water safety and the signs of hypothermia before you fish. Learn the factors for survival.
Regulations require that you register with the Alaska Department of Fish and Game if you intend to leave a shelter standing on the ice overnight in the Tanana River drainage.
Anglers need a current fishing license in their possession. Other regulations apply.
Two boys ice fishing on a lake. Photo by Matthew Vos