Saddles: The Best Ice Fishing Hotspots On Any Lake

Posted by Chris Larsen on 18th Apr 2024

Saddles: The Best Ice Fishing Hotspots On Any Lake

Fishing out of a hardsided fish house is one of the best ways to enjoy winter on the ice. It’s comfortable and you often have full access to creature comforts like a stove and television. But one of the downsides to a fishhouse compared to a portable, is less mobility. Today’s wheelhouses and skidhouses are getting better, but they’re still not as mobile as portable shelters.

Finding the perfect spot to place your fishhouse is more important when fishing with a wheelhouse. One of my favorite spots to drop a house down is a saddle. When I’m looking for saddles on a piece of water, I’m looking for a low point between two humps. I’ve found these spots to be even better if there is a nice basin on both sides of the humps. The saddle is essentially a highway between the two basins. Instead of going up the humps or climbing a hill, fish would rather slide through the valley or saddle between them. Fish are not unlike ourselves, they’re likely to choose the easiest path to get where they want to go.

The great thing about these locations is there is access to break lines, deep water, and humps. It’s a combination of all of the best pieces of structure in one place. Saddles tend to be most active in the golden hours before sunset and right after sunrise as fish move in and out of feeding areas but I’ve found some of the best saddles provide action nearly all day long and into the night hours. Think of saddles just like a highway. They’re busiest during rush hour but there are usually cars flowing through just about any time of day.

I typically set up right inside the vortex of the saddle. The centerpoint is usually the hottest spot but not all saddles are made the same. If it seems slow and the weather allows for it, get out and explore. Drill some holes around the house, and drop your electronics down. Whether its forward-facing sonar like Live Scope, traditional sonar, or even an underwater camera, taking a look around could lead you to a better spot or confirm what you already believe about the area.

If conditions allow, do a little jigging or even set up some tipups to get an idea of where to attack further. Once you find the perfect spot on a saddle, it’s usually productive during future trips. You’re not fishing for fish that live in that spot. You’re simply picking off fish as they move through the area. The other exciting part of fishing saddles is you never know what you’ll catch. It may be a crappie hotspot but walleye, pike, and bass could be using it. A lot of people would prefer to pass on the bass but they are a ton of fun to catch through the ice.

The other nice thing about saddles is there often is no visual indication of structure from above the ice. It’s pretty easy to see points without the use of any electronics. Many saddles go unnoticed by novice anglers so many of them are not inhabited by hordes of ice anglers. I’ve often fished my favorite saddles without anyone around me.

When it comes to fishing strategies for saddles, the classic 1-2 punch of a jigging rod and a deadstick is probably the best advice I can give. If a fish doesn’t like aggressive jigging, it will hit the live bait on a deadstick. But my best advice is to use as many lines as you legally can. Covering the area with several baits with tipups or rattle reels will help maximize your success. Not using all the lines you legally can is a mistake I often see anglers make.

Saddles are often one of the most productive ice fishing spots on a given lake. And the best part is, they’re often overlooked by other anglers. 

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