Most competitive anglers are thrilled to catch a big bass, walleye or pike, as the fish’s weight moves them up the standings. But at the 10th annual World Ice Fishing Championship (WIFC X) in Wausau, Wis. during February 11-17, a big bass, walleye or pike will hardly raise an eyebrow — because they don’t count. According to the WIFC X rules of international competitive ice fishing, only rough fish and panfish count, so competitors will be targeting yellow perch, bluegill, crappie, rock bass and carp through the ice. Ice anglers will have to release bass, walleye, or muskie to fight another day.

“Fishing for rough fish and panfish will present a unique challenge on the ice on the Big Eau Pleine. Predator fish such as pike bite much more aggressively compared to rough fish and panfish,” U.S. Ice Team Captain Mike McNett explained. “Success on a light bite will depend on a combination of specialized groundbait techniques and precise jig presentation.”

Most ice anglers are not familiar with using groundbait to attract panfish and rough fish to their fishing holes. Using groundbait for ice fishing is a technique commonly used in Europe and Asia and starting to catch on with American ice anglers. Groundbait is a fine mix of fish-attracting ingredients that stimulate fish to feed actively and stay below an angler’s ice hole.

“We are working with our sponsor Marukyu, a well-known bait manufacturer, to create an irresistible groundbait for American ice fishing,” McNett said. “The typical ice-fishing bite is extremely light, so adding groundbait will often perk up hungry fish, making the bite a little more aggressive and increasing the chances of a positive hook up.”

The USF3 would like to thank the following sponsors that support the U.S. Ice Team’s efforts in competing at WIFC X: Universal Restoration Services , Shark and American Fishing Contests, Cabela’s, HT Enterprises, Humminbird, St. Croix Rods, G2 Gemini Custom Apparel, Kahtoola MICROspikes, Sunline, Marukyu Baits, Power Boots-Sweden and Strike Master Ice Augers.

For more information about WIFC X, email U.S. Ice Team Captain Mike McNett at or The USF3 is the governing body of international competitive angling for the United States. Its mission is to promote the sport of fishing among American anglers and to foster the best possible relationships between American anglers and our fellow international angling friends and competitors. Watch for the latest updates about WIFC X at or

Image courtesy United States Freshwater Fishing Federation

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