Now that you know my favorite jigs for ice fishing, I will share with you my list of best baits for ice fishing. Bait used for ice fishing is a little different than bait used for summer fishing. Summer fishing baits basically consist of plastics, worms, minnows. Ice fishing has a few more baits which include the three summer favorites but also a few more you will only see under the ice.
The first bait on my list of best baits for ice fishing is locally known around Michigan as a wiggler. What is a wiggler? A wiggler is a baby mayfly. Anybody that has fished Michigan or Ohio lakes (or went to Cedar Point at the right time) know about mayflies but a lot of people do not ice fish with wigglers or know what they are.
I do not know their technical term but ask any bait-shop in Michigan and they know what you are talking about. Perch/panfish/picky walleye love wigglers. Set up on a sand bar with a wiggler on a bare hook or small jig and you will have the fish coming in by the dozen.
The next bait on my list of ice fishing baits is a wax-worm. Any angler that has ice fished before is most likely familiar with wax-worms but for those that are not they are a small white grub that fish love. I usually have wax-worms in my repertoire but will definitely make sure I have them bluegill fishing.
Out of all the fish I have targeted under the ice, bluegills seem to like wax-worms the best. Perch and walleye will also attack jigs tipped with wax-worms but for some reason gills really like em. Tip a wax-worm on the business side of a fat boy lure or a regular hook and you will be in business.
The third bait on my list is spikes. What is a spike? I don't exactly know what type of grub/maggot "spikes" are but they look like a little maggot. Sound gross? Hammer a bunch of big perch with them and you will be putting the frozen ones in your lip like a chaw to warm them up after you noticed you have ran out and the only ones left in the can or frozen. Now you are ice fishing!
Perch seem to like spikes the best but every once in awhile a bluegill will attack one along with a hungry walleye. If you are using them for walleye, try putting a few on the treble of a jigging rap for extra enticement.
The fourth bait on my list of ice fishing baits is what I call a jensen egg. "Jensen" eggs are manufactured by a few companies. Locally, I buy Atlas scented eggs. These eggs are plastic eggs that come in different colors and have sort of a black licorice scent. I love using these baits under a jigging rap or a bigger spoon. An old timer at my work tipped me off on using them because he claimed the fish thought seeing the red egg meant danger. I don't know if that is true or not but they work.
The awesome thing about using jensen eggs is you can use them over and over. The not awesome thing is no matter how hard I try to keep the lid on them, they seem to spill all over my other stuff. Minnow/black licorice car smell anybody?
The last bait on my list is of course minnows. I do not care how many modern ice fishing improvements there are out there, nothing will take over the minnow. It doesn't matter... Minnow heads, live minnows, frozen ones, minnow tails. You cannot go wrong using minnows as a bait while ice fishing. The only reason I rarely use them is they are a pain to transport but if I am going to be on the ice for an extended time or a few days in a row I definitely will have a minnow bucket with me (read how to hook a minnow).
Have fun out there if you get out and be safe!