The final weeks of ice fishing season often produce some of the fastest action we’ve seen all winter. Days are getting longer, temperatures are warmer and meltwater seeping into the lakes rejuvenates the fish and fires up the bite.

There’s more to maximizing the late-winter reap than simply slogging out on the ice, however. Follow these three tips to end your hardwater season in a blaze of glory.

  1. Lighten Your Load: You spent all winter adding lures, gear and gadgets to your tackle bags and jacket pockets. Now’s the time to pare your arsenal down to the bare essentials, so you can quickly hop from hole to hole, picking off active fish, fast.

Last Ice

Toward this end, I limit myself to one small tackle box per species of fish. Lure selection consists of a few swim baits for aggressive fish, plus a handful of fixed-hook spoons and horizontal jigs for moderately active customers. I typically bring a pair of pre-rigged jigging rods, one set up with a swimbait for the first drop, the other with spoon or jig for less active fish.

Last Ice

  1. Forget Finesse: Late ice is not the time to hover over a hole trying to coax reluctant fish into biting. It’s the time to keep moving in search of active biters. If the presentations in my one-two punch don’t trip the fish’s trigger, I’m on to the next hole.

Last Ice

  1. Drill More Holes: As fish’s activity levels increase, so does their tendency to roam around in search of their next meal. Punching more holes helps you find and catch these hungry wanders. Simply put, you can’t drill enough holes at late ice.

Last Ice

One final bonus tip: Bring a bucket. You’re going to catch fish, and selectively harvesting a bit of the late-winter bounty is a great way to savor your final adventures of the ice fishing season.

Images by Chip Leer

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