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Weekend Getaways

The 7 Best Ice Fishing Lakes in North Dakota

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Living in a winter climate means finding exciting ways to keep yourself occupied during the cold months. This is especially true if you live in North Dakota, where the state experiences about three to four severe winter storms a year on average. North Dakota, also known as the Peace Garden State, is actually one of the coldest states in the United States. In fact, the state holds a Guinness World Record, which might not surprise you! The state is known for having set the record for the most snow angels in one place at a time. Being such a cold state, it’s also an excellent spot for ice fishing. If you’re interested in fishing in the winter, check out our list of the best lakes for ice fishing in North Dakota.

Whether you’re from North Dakota or just interested in visiting the state for good old ice fishing, you’ll love perusing this list and learning more!

devil lake

Anglers who enjoy catching bass should check out Devils Lake as it has been named the Bass Capital of the World.


Our list starts with Devils Lake, the second largest body of water in the state. This is a 122,000-acre lake with a maximum depth of more than 59 feet. This lake is huge and therefore definitely worth a multi-day fishing trip. Plenty of coastal and creek channels make it ideal for ice fishing.

At this lake you will find a wide variety of fish to catch. These fish include walleye, white bass, musky, pike, crappie and perch. In fact, this lake is known to have a very healthy and large population of yellow bass fish. Locals have even said it’s the ‘perch capital’ of the world. This is such a popular ice fishing destination that it’s estimated that open water and ice fishing here brings in more than $20 million annually.

Lake Sakakawea

An aerial view of Lake Sakakawea.  The lake is narrow and meanders through the frame from the bottom right frame through the left part of the photo and then meanders back to the right about 3/4 of the way up, and then up to the right, there are a few clouds in between the camera and the photo and the train is too far away to look anything but brown and green.
Created by the Garrison Dam on the Missouri River, Lake Sakakawea is an incredibly popular spot for recreational activities such as fishing, hiking, boating and camping.

©Kit Leong/

Lake Sakakawea is right in the center of North Dakota. It is considered the largest man-made lake in the state. It is also the second largest lake in the United States by area alone. The surface of the lake is a staggering 307,000 acres and the maximum depth it reaches is 180 feet. The reservoir was originally created by the construction of the Garrison Dam. The lake is a very popular fishing destination – especially for ice fishing. Here you can catch many fish including rainbow trout, smallmouth bass, cutthroat trout, walleye, perch and pike.

Lake Audubon

Lake Audubon North Dakota
Anglers visit Lake Audobon for its great variety of fish, including walleye, yellow bass and smallmouth bass.

©USFWS Mountain-Prairie / flickr – License

Lake Audubon is actually considered the complementary “sister lake” to Lake Sakakawea. This lake is located in the west-central part of the state, at Coleharbor. A dam separates only Audubon and Sakakawea. This dam actually carries US Highway 83. This is a pretty decent lake covering 16,612 acres. At its deepest point it is 59 feet deep. The lake is a popular fishing destination as it is stocked with a variety of fish. You can expect to catch smallmouth bass, bass, walleye and pike. These fish can be caught at any time of the year, especially during ice fishing season. Because it is close to Highway 83, this lake is easily accessible.

Lake Metigoshe

Lake Metigoshe
Located on the US-Canada border, this lake is an incredibly popular day-trip destination in both summer and winter.


If you are interested in an ice fishing trip with amazing views, don’t miss Lake Metigoshe. This lake happens to be in the absolutely gorgeous Turtle Mountains. For those familiar with the area, the Turtle Mountains happen to border the United States and Canada. The lake has an area of ​​1,544 acres and a maximum depth of 24 feet.

Although most of the lake is in the United States, a portion still extends into Manitoba. The main species of fish you can catch here are perch, crappie, sunfish, perch, pike and walleye. However, when it comes to ice fishing, the most popular species caught in this species are crappie, perch and bluegill. Overall this is a fantastic ice fishing spot if you are interested in a great catch and want to experience spectacular views.

Lake Renwick

1678645144 460 The 7 Best Ice Fishing Lakes in North Dakota - March 25, 2023
As part of the Icelandic State Park, Lake Renwick is just off Highway 5, making it fairly easy to get to.

©McGhiever / CC BY-SA 3.0 License

Renwick Dam is a dam in the northeast corner of North Dakota. The dam was officially completed in 1962. The reservoir created by the dam at that time is known as Lake Renwick. This lake has a water surface of 204 hectares. Adjacent to Icelandic State Park, this lake offers plenty to see. When it comes to ice fishing, many anglers come here specifically for the abundance of northern pike species. You can also catch sunfish here. However, it’s important to note that accommodation here can be quite limited. This is important to know if you plan to extend the ice fishing trip beyond a few days.

lake darling

1678645144 496 The 7 Best Ice Fishing Lakes in North Dakota - March 25, 2023
If you are looking for a more private and secluded ice fishing spot then check out Lake Darling which is known for large numbers of bass.

Just northwest of Minot, along the Upper Souris National Wildlife Refuge, you’ll find Lake Darling nestled. This is a fantastic lake option for anglers who prefer to keep to themselves and want their ice fishing trip to feel private. The lake is named after Jay N. “Ding” Darling. He was the first director of the Bureau of Biological Survey. It covers an area of ​​nearly 9,500 hectares.

There is nearly 50 miles of shoreline along this lake, making it easy for anglers to spread out and enjoy plenty of personal space. The most commonly caught fish here are zander and perch. In fact, many anglers come here in winter specifically for these two fish. But pike and black bass can also be caught here.

Lake Oahe

Lake Oahe
There are over 2,000 miles of shoreline along Lake Oahe, making it one of North Dakota’s most famous fishing spots.

©Chadden Roggow/

Lake Oahe is not an insider tip if you know the area well enough. In fact, about 1.5 million people visit the lake every year. However, because the area is so great, we just had to add it to our list! This lake is so large that it stretches across South and North Dakota. It has an area of ​​370,000 acres and a maximum depth of 205 feet.

In terms of sheer volume, this lake is considered the fourth largest reservoir in the United States. The area has plenty of fish including walleye, trout, catfish, salmon and pike. However, the smallmouth bass here is what attracts so many anglers. They can get pretty big on Lake Oahe. Even salmon, walleye and trout grow quite large on this lake. Crappies are another popular fish to catch during ice fishing season.


#Ice #Fishing #Lakes #North #Dakota

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