Ice Fishing With Eggshells? (How It Works!)

We’ve all heard about and used some weird and strange baits when the bite is slow or off. Even more bizarre, a few years back, a friend told me about ice fishing with eggshells and why it works.

Eggshells can be used to attract fish while ice fishing and provide a contrasting color on the lake bottom to spot fish below you easily. Eggshells flickering through the water draw curious fish closer to your bait or lure and can make a hard day of fishing successful improving your catch rate.

For a minute, I thought he had found a way to use eggshells as bait! Sign me up straight away if that is the case. Eggshells are a cheap and plentiful resource, but how would you make them a bait? More importantly, why would fish eat eggshells? Let me explain this further!

Why Would You Need Eggshells While Ice Fishing?

Not much natural light penetrates through the thick ice layer when lakes are frozen over. If you do not use a flasher or other sonar equipment, you need to depend on your fishing bait, fishing skills, and luck.

When it’s ten below zero, and the fish are tight-lipped, the last thing you want to do is sit on the ice and not catch anything.

Photo of Ice Fishing with Egg Shells

Usually, a flasher or fish finder helps you locate fish beneath the ice. Peering down the hole, you will not always be successful in spotting any fish. They are well camouflaged from the top and blend in with the bottom.

Using crushed eggshells to create a high contrast backdrop will help you spot fish easier. Many ice anglers use this technique to their advantage.

Why Do Eggshells Attract Fish When Ice Fishing?

Fish are naturally curious, and they will inevitably investigate things out of the ordinary. Such things as crushed eggshells floating down to the bottom of the lake.

Throwing crushed eggshells down the ice fishing hole does not attract fish deliberately; they are attracted due to their nature and curiosity.

In nature, anything that floats down to the bottom can be food for fish, bird poop, insects, and other material that could contain ants or termites.

Under the ice, food sources are restricted, so it may look as if the eggshells attract fish in the same manner as chumming the water.

How Were Eggshells Used For Ice Fishing Originally?

Eggshells were used long ago while spearfishing in shallow water to make seeing fish coming in easier. Typically it would work like this;

  • Drill a hole in the ice
  • Sprinkle sufficient crushed eggshells down the hole
  • Make sure the bottom has a contrasting white section
  • Drop the decoy lure down the hole
  • Wait for fish swimming across the contrasting section
  • With perfect timing, you spear the fish much more efficiently

How To Use Eggshells When Ice Fishing

In much the same way you use eggshells for spearfishing, you can use eggshells while ice fishing with your rod and bait or a lure. This is how to do it;

  • During the summer months, gather your used eggshells
  • Let them dry outside. The sun helps to get rid of any albumin
  • Place eggshells in a strong ziplock bag
  • Using a rolling pin or heavy book, gently crush the eggshells
  • Remove from the bag and store in an airtight container
  • As winter approaches, make smaller bags of eggshells
  • Place a couple of bags in your tacklebox

Here are a few things to take note of –

  • Be sure not to crush the shells to a powder; larger pieces are better
  • Only crush dry shells
  • Use only heavy-duty ziplock bags as the eggshells can be sharp and tear through the bag. 
  • Be mindful that eggshells are sharp and can break your skin

Do White Eggshells Work Better Than Brown Eggshells?

Typically you would want to use white eggshells as the brown eggshells might blend in with the lake’s bottom. A great idea would be to mix the brown and white eggshells with a ratio of 1 bag of brown to 4 bags of white, that way, you don’t waste the shells.

Where Can You Get Extra Eggshells?

If you’re thinking – “There is no possible way I’m going to eat that many eggs by winter,” – you’re probably right! So, where can you get extra eggshells? Here are some ideas –

  • Ask neighbors and friends to keep any used eggshells and collect them weekly.
  • Go past your local diner or cafe and speak to the manager to keep the eggshells for you – provide them with a container.
  • Speak to local farmers with chickens and ask them to save the eggshells for you, and again, provide them with a container.

Do Eggshells Work On Any Lake?

Typically you would want to use your eggshells in a frozen lake or frozen river that is no deeper than 15 feet. The darker the bottom of the lake or river, the better the white eggshells will create a perfectly contrasted area.

Typically you would want to use your eggshells in a frozen lake or frozen river that is no deeper than 15 feet.

If the bottom of the lake or river is deeper than 15 feet, you would be wasting the eggshells because it would be too deep to see. The other issue is there are always currents below the ice to consider. The deeper the lake, the more chance of a current washing the shells away before hitting the bottom.

The medium-sized crushed eggshells are heavy enough to float down to the bottom; it’s a good idea to empty the contents of the bag down the ice fishing hole at once so that the majority of the shells reach the bottom and create a tighter contrasting circle or area.

Can Eggshells Work Like Chum?

Typically eggshells don’t work like chum; however, it has been noted that Panfish and Pike are attracted to the eggshells that float down.

One explanation for this is that both species are sight feeders and when one fish darts for the shells, the others assume a feeding frenzy is about to occur, and they follow suit.

The other explanation is that they are attracted to the white eggshells because of the extra reflected light and contrast to the usually dark bottoms. It’s like a neon light below saying “Food Here,” and they are hungry.

The Pike or Panfish may even dart towards the falling eggshells and attempt to eat some of them, but they soon realize it’s not food and spit it out. This is the perfect time to drop your lure or bait because the fish are now feeding.


Eggshells are very effective when used to create contrast on the dark iced lake or river bottoms and are 100% biodegradable and environmentally friendly. Eggshells will not decay like white rice or corn and will not alter the water quality.

Have fun and stay safe out there!

Mike Rodman

Mike is an avid ice fisherman and fishes the Rocky Mountain Region and across the US Ice Belt and Canada. During the off-winter months, he enjoys fly fishing the Wyoming mountains and fishing from his kayak for pike and smallmouth bass. When Mike can find a little spare time, he'll be at his rod bench building custom fishing rods.

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