When Does Ice Fishing Start? Answers for Your State

For you, there’s no better time of the year than the start of the ice fishing season. Depending on which part of the United States you call home, when that season starts versus when it ends will vary. How soon can you start ice fishing?

For many states, the ice fishing season begins between December and January. In colder parts of the country such as Alaska, you might be able to go ice fishing as early as November. The active ice fishing season lasts until April in states like Wisconsin!

In this guide to ice fishing in the United States, we’ll go through every state in which ice fishing is viable (meaning no super-warm southern states) and discuss what the average ice fishing season looks like. You won’t want to miss it!

Ice Fishing by State – Here’s What to Expect Out of an Average Season


In the frosty state of Alaska, the ice fishing season starts earlier than in most of the rest of the US. You can begin reeling in catches as early as November. The average temperature for that month in Alaska is 23 to 33 degrees Fahrenheit, so do make sure you layer up!

The season usually wraps up in Alaska around March but can sometimes go longer. 

Some of the most recommended places to go ice fishing in Alaska include Jewel Lake, Quartz Lake, Mat-Su Valley Pike Derby, the Nancy Lake State Recreation Area, and Birch Lake. 


Once the fun of the holiday season ends in late December, you can dig out your ice fishing rod, as that’s when the season starts in Arizona. Since this is a warmer state, the temps are much comfier in the low 40s this time of year. 

By February, it’s getting too warm in Arizona to continue ice fishing, so you’ll have to stop until next December.

Try Rainbow Lake, Sunrise Lake, and Show Low Lake throughout the state to reel in some amazing catches! 


If your New Year’s resolution is to catch more fish, that coincides with the start of the ice fishing season in California, which is January. Although Cali is known for its sweltering temperatures, in January, the temp range is sandwiched in the middle of the 40s and 60s. That’s quite comfortable.

The ice fishing season might extend in this state through March.

Where in California should you go ice fishing? Donner Lake, Boca Lake, Frenchmen Lake, and Caples Lake are some of the most beloved destinations.  


In the great state of Colorado, ice fishing begins in December. That’s right around the time of year when the temperatures dip into the high 30s and sometimes the low 20s. The season lasts until the middle or end of February.

Throughout Colorado are plenty of great places for ice fishing, including Lake Granby, Chatfield Reservoir, the Harvey Gap State Park Reservoir, Chambers Lake, Trinidad Lake State Park, and the Eleven Mile Reservoir. 


In Connecticut, you’ll have to wait until the start of the year to ice fish. By January, the average temps are about 37 degrees on average. The temperatures usually don’t grow warmer than low 50s and won’t dip much lower than 23 degrees. You can ice fish without feeling frostbitten!

In March, when the average temperatures are closer to 50 degrees, it’s time to wrap up your ice fishing season. 

Plan trips to Squantz Pond, Bantam Lake, Mohawk Pond, Westside Pond, Tyler Lake, or West Hill Pond for the best ice fishing in the state. 


January is also when ice fishing season begins in Delaware. With about seven days of rain this month and average temps of 44 degrees, you should have your pick of when you want to go ice fishing. 

The season is exceptionally short though, as it ends in February. 

Seek out Blackbird State Forest’s fishing pond and Silver Lake City Park to access some premium ice fishing catches in Delaware. 


After the holiday festivities wrap up but before the year ends, plan a day or several of ice fishing if you call Idaho home. In late December, the temperatures here are anywhere from 28 to 36 degrees. Dress for the weather so your digits don’t end up cold.

You can continue ice fishing in Idaho through February, so that’s not a bad season overall.

Some of the most highly-regarded ice fishing spots in this state are Winchester Lake, Round Lake, Hayden Lake, Hauser Lake, Avondale Lake, and Spirit Lake. 


Once December arrives on the calendar, many Illinoisans get more excited for the start of ice fishing season than the beginning of the holidays. Throughout December, the average temperatures are 34 degrees and can sometimes dip into the low 20s. That’s ideal ice fishing weather! 

By March, ice fishing in Illinois becomes less viable. Even still, this state has among the longest ice fishing seasons!

If you’re new looking for places to go ice fishing in Illinois, the Mazonia Fish & Wildlife Area, Mississippi River, Shabbona Lake, Urban Lakes, Michigan harbors, and Fox Chain-O-Lakes are favorites. 


Here’s a third state in a row where the ice fishing season begins in December. In Indiana, you’ll want to wait until the middle of the month but before Christmas to plan your first ice fishing excursion. This time of the year, temperatures rarely climb above 40 degrees. You’ll need a winter coat, but there’s no need to bundle up too much.

Indiana’s ice fishing season usually ends sometime in March.

You have an assortment of great ice fishing spots in this state to choose from. They include the Prairie Creek Reservoir, Monroe Lake, Lake Maxinkuckee, Lake Lemon, Lake Freeman, and Dewart Lake. 


If you guessed that Iowa’s ice fishing season began in December, you’d be correct. This Midwestern state sees temperatures in the low 30s by the time the last month of the year gets underway. In some cases, temperatures can drop to 14 degrees. You better bring your best winter gear.

Is the weather too cold for you? The ice fishing season lasts until March in Iowa, so no one says you have to head out in December.

Make it a point to ice fish at West Okoboji Lake, Storm Lake, Lost Island Lake, East Okoboji Lake, Clear Lake, Black Hawk Lake, and Big Spirit Lake. 


Although it borders some southern states, it’s not so warm in Kansas that you must forego ice fishing. The season starts here in January when the frequent temperatures are 38 degrees as a high and 21 degrees as a low.

You can continue ice fishing through February when mid-40s are common. By March, the temps are too warm, sorry!

Eureka City Lake and the Glen Elder Reservoir are two highly preferred fishing spots in Kansas. 


As was true of Kansas, Kentucky is another southern-leaning state that still has cold enough winters for ice fishing. In January, when this state’s ice fishing season begins, the average highs are approximately 38.8 degrees. That’s anything but balmy.

By March, rising temperatures prohibit more ice fishing. 

In Kentucky, some renowned places for ice fishing are Panther State Forest, Fishtrap Lake State Park, Breaks Interstate Park, and Lake Cumberland.   


On the east coast, Maine gets some frigid winters. In January, the average high is 33 degrees. This coincides with the beginning of the ice fishing season in this state. Don’t expect temperatures higher than 46 degrees throughout the month, so dress warmly.

You get until March to ice fish in Maine, so you should have plenty of time to reel in some amazing catches.

Why not visit Allagash Lake, Portage Lake, Eagle Lake, East Grand Lake, Sebago Lake, or Moosehead Lake this season? 


Another east coast state with a January start to the ice fishing season is Maryland. The temperatures here are warmer than in Maine. In January, the average low is 23.5 degrees, and the high is 41.2 degrees.

By March, the temps begin rising to 53 degrees, so you get until that month to enjoy ice fishing in Maryland.

Deep Creek Lake is the most popular ice fishing location in the state, but Rocky Gap State Park might be less crowded. 


Here’s a third east-coast state, Massachusetts. Unlike Maine and Maryland, ice fishing in Massachusetts starts earlier, in the middle of December. The temps this time of year are 28 to 41 degrees, so they’re perfect for making some incredible memories on the ice.

You have until February to ice fish to your heart’s content in Massachusetts!

Visit the Whitehall Reservoir, Chebacco Lake, Baldpate Pond, Pontoosuc Lake, Onoto Lake, and Lake Mattawa for catches such as bass, perch, and pickerel. 


Although it’s not the coldest month in Michigan (that would be January), December is still when the state’s ice fishers start gathering around lakes and ponds. Be sure to join them! The temps are still in the low 40s and will only get colder, after all.

The ice fishing season in Michigan lasts until April when temperatures will slowly rise from the 50s to the 60s.

Some of the best spots for ice fishing throughout Michigan are Cass Lake, Crystal Lake, Lake Gogebic, Saginaw Bay, and Hamlin Lake. 


Before celebrating Thanksgiving, you can already be out ice fishing if you live in Minnesota. That’s sure to make your ice fishing buddies in other parts of the country mighty jealous as they have to wait a month or more! 

You can continue reeling in fish after fish until April. Minnesota’s is the longest ice fishing season yet. 

You should have plenty of time to fish at Big Stone Lake, Rainy Lake, Leech Lake, Lake of the Woods, Gull Lake, Lake Vermilion, Mille Lacs Lake, and Upper Red Lake. 


December is the start of the ice fishing season in Missouri, which makes sense given the state’s proximity to Illinois and Iowa. The temperatures drop about eight degrees between November and December, with an average temperature of 41 degrees.

The ice fishing season lasts until March, which is not too shabby.

Head on out to the Lake of the Ozarks or Lake Taneycomo when the urge to go ice fishing strikes. 


As one of the uppermost states in the country, it gets cold in Montana! Even still, you have to wait until December for optimal ice fishing weather. By then, the average high is 22.5 degrees. Yes, that’s right, that’s the average high. The lows are 7.9 degrees. You know what we’re going to say – dress appropriately so you don’t freeze!

In April, when the temperatures give way to warmer days in the 50s and 60s, ice fishing ends here.

Montana has some great ice fishing spots scattered throughout the state, including Hebgen Lake, Canyon Ferry Lake, Georgetown Lake, Flathead Lake, and Fort Peck Lake. 


Nebraskans, get ready to go ice fishing in December, as that’s when the season usually kicks off. The weather is too warm in October (with average highs of 66 degrees) and November (51 degrees on average), but by December, the temperatures graciously drop to an average of 37 degrees.

Enjoy the frigid months through March, when higher temps preclude ice fishing from being a viable seasonal activity.

Our favorite ice fishing spots in Nebraska are the Valentine National Wildlife Refuge, the Cottonwood Lake State Recreation Area, the Blue River State Recreation Area, the Smith Creek State Recreation Area, the Merritt Reservoir State Recreation Area, and the Crescent Lake National Wildlife Refuge. 


Does it even get cold enough to go ice fishing in Nevada? Indeed, it does, usually around the middle of December. With average temperatures around 36 to 55 degrees, ice fishing doesn’t make for as cold of an experience as in many of the other states we’ve discussed.

By February, the balminess that Nevada is known for makes its return, so get your fill of ice fishing before then.

Cave Lake, South Fork Reservoir, and the Wild Horse Reservoir are some optimal ice fishing locations in Nevada. You’re also not so far from California that you can’t drive over state lines and fish there! 

New Hampshire

Moving back to the east coast now, New Hampshire’s ice fishing season also begins in December, but later in the month. By the time winter officially begins on the calendar, the temperatures usually go from the high 30s to the low 30s. The highs are around the 50s, which is quite comfy.

Although the season starts a bit late, in New Hampshire, ice fishing can conceivably continue until the middle of April. 

Newfound Lake, Lake Sunapee, and Lake Winnipesaukee are the top three ice fishing lakes in the state. 

New Jersey

New Jersey tends to hold onto fall temps even into late December, so you’ll have to be patient until January to fulfill your urge to go ice fishing. The average temperatures during this month are 40 degrees, which is not too cold nor too warm. The lows may be around the high 20s.

By March, the days here get too spring-like to continue ice fishing.

Where in New Jersey can you go ice fishing? For a variety of fish from bass to trout, try Green Turtle Pond, Pompton Lake, and Swartswood Lake. 

New Mexico

You may be surprised to see New Mexico on this list, but this southern state does have some chilly winters that make it a good place for ice fishing. By December, 47-degree days are prevalent, so it’s time to head to the lakes! 

You have until February to ice fish, so make the most of this short season. 

New Mexico has its share of great ice fishing locales, such as Eagle Nest Lake, Sugarite Canyon State Park, Cabresto Lake, and Fenton Lake. 

New York

Ping-ponging back to the east coast now, New Yorkers who want to get away from the hustle and bustle of city life should plan to go ice fishing in December. You’ll see more days in the mid-40s and even the low 30s, and there’s usually only about eight days of rain this month.

Ice fishing is a great activity to enjoy in the state until about March. Then the spring weather leaves you with little ice to work with.

The top lakes for ice fishing in New York are Honeoye Lake, Cayuga Lake, Oneida Lake, Lake Ontario, St. Lawrence River, Saratoga Lake, and Lake Champlain. 

North Carolina

As a southern state, it’s not surprising that you have to wait until January for ice fishing season in North Carolina. The temperatures are fixed in the low 50s during that month, so leave your winter coat at home. Grab a jacket instead!

By February, when the weather gets warmer still, it’s time to retire your ice fishing pole until the following year. 

The Raleigh/Durham Area Lakes, Catawba River Lakes, and the Great Smokey Mountain Lakes are some of the best in the state for catching big fish, so try ice fishing at any of them! 

North Dakota

On the complete opposite side of the map, the northernmost North Dakota is a great state to live in if you enjoy ice fishing. You can get started as early as late November, as the temperatures are about 30 degrees on average. 

Even into March, temps are about 46 degrees, so you can continue ice fishing until March is about to give way to April. That’s quite the fishing season! 

North Dakota’s Lake Oahe, Central Missouri River, Lake Sakakawea, and Upper Missouri River are anglers’ top spots for catching fish. 


Do you have the itch to go ice fishing in Ohio? You’ll have to wait until late December to get started. That’s when the temps begin falling into the 30s so the ice can stay intact. The season extends to March.

Lakes abound in Ohio for ice fishing, including Piedmont Lake, the Clear Fork Reservoir, Seneca Lake, Alum Creek, Ohio River, and the esteemed Lake Erie. 


As this list should have proved by now, ice fishing in southern states is uncommon but not impossible. January is when ice fishing is best in Oklahoma, as you’ll get a stretch of about 30 days full of 48-degree weather. It only rains about one day of the month historically.

By February, the temps rise to the mid-50s, so your ice fishing season will come to a quick end.

Eufaula Lake, Broken Bow Lake, Grand Lake O’ the Cherokees, Flint Creek, and Lake Texoma are all stellar spots in Oklahoma for ice fishing. 


The east coast is an excellent place to go ice fishing, and that’s true of Pennsylvania as well. In December, the temperatures finally reach an optimal range of low 40s, although some warm days can crawl into the 60s.

The mild winter weather continues through the beginning of March, so you can keep on ice fishing until then. 

We must again recommend Lake Erie for fishing in Pennsylvania. You can also try Presque Isle State Park, Raystown Lake, Lake Wallenpaupack, and Neshannock Creek.

Rhode Island

For a bit of east-coast ice fishing that’s on the colder side than what Pennsylvania has to offer, head to Rhode Island. Their fishing season begins in January when the days hover around 37 degrees. Even on warm days, the temps are in the low 50s.

The season usually ends sometime in March.

Rhode Island’s popular summer destinations become great ice fishing spots in the winter, including Watch Hill, Block Island, Olney Pond, Wyoming Pond, and Watchaug Pond. 

South Dakota

Both Dakotas get cold enough winters for ice fishing, and that starts in December in South Dakota. A six-degree temperature drop from November brings the temps to about 35 degrees on average. The temps will only get more frigid before tapering off in March. 

Get some good South Dakota ice fishing in at Optiz Lake, Waubay Lake, Lake Madison, Lake Thompson, and Lake Francis Case. 


Since it’s on the southern side of the country, Utah’s winter doesn’t really begin until January. The days are typically in the mid-to-high 30s and can sometimes reach 50 degrees or slightly over. The start of January is especially cold.  

Into February, you can still go ice fishing, but by March, it’s time to pack it in. 

Utah has some excellent ice fishing lakes, among them the Flaming Gorge Reservoir, the Mantua Reservoir, the Hyrum Reservoir, the Scofield Reservoir, and the Strawberry Reservoir. 


Vermont experiences some very cold winters, and January is right in the thick of it. During that month, the temperatures are traditionally around 26 or 27 degrees, which is downright cold but still awesome for ice fishing.

You can probably get away with fishing until April when the average high is about 55 degrees, but most anglers stop sometime in March.  

Northern pike abounds in such spots as the St. Albans Bay, Keeler Bay, Carry Bay, Dillenbeck Bay, and Kelly Bay on Lake Champlain. 


Virginia is for ice fishing! January is when you’re likeliest to see the most anglers in this east coast state. The temperatures are in the mid-40s, which isn’t freezing cold but is cool enough to allow for you to reel in some catches.

By March, when the temperatures are near 60 degrees on average, the season will effectively ended. 

Lake Anna, Smith Mountain Lake, and Chincoteague are great places throughout Virginia to visit when you feel like ice fishing. 


Late December in Washington is the place to be if you’re eager to do some ice fishing. After warm periods in October and November, the temperatures in this part of the country finally reach the mid-40s as the year ends.

The cold 40-degree days continue until about March when ice fishing season stops. 

Plan a day trip to Blythe Lake or Roses Lake for a quiet day of ice fishing in Washington!  

West Virginia

If you vacation in West Virginia in the summer, plan a winter excursion as well. As we get deeper into the first month of the year, the temperatures in this part of the country grow colder. The average January temps are 41 degrees.

The ice fishing season is decidedly short, lasting until late February. 

In West Virginia, Camp Creek, Kanawha Falls, and Cheat Lake can be very nice this time of the year! 


Wisconsinites know all too well that November brings with it usually frigid temperatures between 33 and 44 degrees. There’s no better time than the middle of this month to begin planning your ice fishing adventures.

The ice fishing season can be quite long in this part of the country, sometimes wrapping up at the beginning of April or a little into the month. 

Find a spot at Black Oak Lake, Lake Winnebago, Green Bay, or Boom Lake and you’ll be all set for ice fishing!


The last state on our list is Wyoming, which starts its ice fishing season in December. By then, the temperatures average 38 degrees with lows in the 20s and highs in the upper 50s. The season wraps by the end of March. 

Venture out to the Keyhole Reservoir, the Seminoe Reservoir, or Big Sandy Lake for fun ice fishing. You won’t be disappointed! 

Final Thoughts 

In most states throughout the US, you can start ice fishing as soon as the temperatures get cold, which is sometimes even late into fall. We hope this post has inspired you to begin making the most of the ice fishing season in your state!

Geoff Southworth

I am a California native and I enjoy all the outdoors has to offer. My latest adventures have been taking the family camping, hiking and surfing.

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