Outdoors: Finding fish in the tough month of February

February can be a tough ice fishing month but game fish can be had for those keeping an open mind. (Submitted photo)
February can be a tough ice fishing month but game fish can be had for those keeping an open mind. (Submitted photo)

By Steve Carney

Contributing Writer

There is no doubt the month of February is a tough month for finding and locating game fish. Nobody really knows why the bite slows down but year after year the trend continues. The modern angler has to learn to adapt to the tough conditions  and become more mobile and open minded. Here are some thoughts as we progress into February.


The tough part about February is that this month is a transition month where game fish are beginning to move from their winter patterns and stage for the upcoming Spring spawn. This means the deep holes of mid-winter can be fishless but now the shallows are beginning to hold fish. Game fish don’t always do the same thing all the time which is Mother Nature’s way of spreading out the spawn and insuring success. I would not eliminate the deep water holes but I wouldn’t bet the farm on it. It’s a place to start but if you haven’t had any deep water success, begin your move to much shallower water.

Drill and drill and drill

February is the drill month ! This means moving around checking various spots and drilling until you find them. Spend just 60 seconds looking with your electronics and then move on. Be mobile and quick. Matriculating on one spot is not productive in February. Back in December the fish would move to you, not this month. It’s up to you to find them.


Every lake is different. Some lakes feature deep, green weeds all winter while other lakes are weedless after Labor Day.

Deep and healthy green weeds are a good target area in February. Active weeds provide cover and oxygen and will host baitfish and other invertebrates. The trick is to find them. I use an underwater camera at times to search below the ice and this can be a huge factor in finding just the right weed combinations. Dead and brown weeds are useless and provide zero food and cover for gamefish.

The dead weeds are very prevalent in most Minnesota lakes in February so don’t spend your time on the brown weeds … look for green.

February is a tough month but not impossible. Some of the best pan fishing of the winter occurs in February and March but you have to think late winter ice not early ice. Once you get in the right mindset, you’ll be successful. By the way, don’t forget your ice cleats as we are now faced with glare ice on the lakes in most of Minnesota.