Photo: Flickr/Stefan Berndtsson

Top tactics and loads for downing late-season goldeneye


When freezing temperatures push most waterfowl south, goldeneye remain full-time denizens of large lakes and reservoirs until the very last sections are frozen over. If one final open-water hunt interests you, consider pursuing these hardy, tuxedo-clad birds.


Depending on the ice and water conditions, they are best hunted from islands, natural points and river mouths. All you need is a simple blind that breaks up your profile and a pod of goldeneye or other high-contrast diving-duck decoys. Don’t expect the birds to land in your blocks, so be ready to take them on the first pass.

Goldeneye will fly off and on all day, but they’re most active in morning. Since these are much larger ducks than they appear—and because late-season birds are densely feathered—heavy loads such as three-inch #2s or #3s are best.