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Good ice fishing, close to home

Dozens of waters in Utah provide good ice fishing action.

Part 4

Editor's note: The story below is the final part in a four-part series about a fun activity to do in Utah in the winter — ice fishing! The series explains the benefits of fishing through the ice and provides tips to get beginning anglers started. Experienced anglers should learn something too. Part one: Cold ice, hot fishing, part two: Basic equipment, part three: Finding the right depth, part four: Close to home

You have warm clothes and waterproof boots. Your ice fishing equipment is ready to go. And you have a basic idea of how to locate fish and catch them through the ice.

Yellow perch provide Utah's ice anglers with plenty of action. Fish Lake, and Mantua, Pineview, Hyrum, Rockport and Starvation reservoirs are good places to catch yellow perch.

Yellow perch provide Utah's ice anglers with plenty of action. Fish Lake, and Mantua, Pineview, Hyrum, Rockport and Starvation reservoirs are good places to catch yellow perch.

Photo by Drew Cushing

So what's standing between you and a great ice fishing experience this winter?

Maybe only one thing: Knowing which waters in Utah to fish.

Fortunately, many waters in Utah provide good ice fishing year after year.

"In my opinion, Utah has some of the best ice fishing in the country," says Drew Cushing, warm water sport fisheries coordinator for the Division of Wildlife Resources.

Cushing has fished through the ice in states across the country.

"Utah provides a wider variety of quality fish to catch than any place I know of," he says. "And many of these opportunities are probably close to your home."

Cushing gave Utah County as an example. If you live in the county, you can fish for white bass at Utah Lake in the morning, and then turn around and head to Strawberry Reservoir to catch trophy-sized cutthroat trout in the afternoon; all in the same day!

Fishing reports

Visiting the DWR's fishing report is one way to learn which type of fish are in which waters and where fishing is the best. DWR biologists, officers and outreach personnel update the report every one to two weeks.

Other Internet sources — such as utahwildlife.net and bigfishtackle.com — are also good places to visit. And don't forget your local fishing tackle shop or sporting goods store — people who work at these stores are often the first ones to know about good fishing in their areas.

Some of Utah's best

Cushing says the following waters are producing great fishing for the following fish:

Yellow perch

  • Larger perch:
    • Fish Lake
    • Hyrum Reservoir
    • Rockport Reservoir
  • Smaller, but more abundant perch:
    • Pineview Reservoir ("Catching perch at Pineview can be fairly easy," Cushing says. "Just locate the spot on the bottom where the perch are, and then put your bait in front of the fish.")
    • Mantua Reservoir
    • Starvation Reservoir

Bluegill

  • Larger bluegill:
    • Pelican Lake
    • Steinaker Reservoir
  • Smaller, but more abundant bluegill:
    • Mantua Reservoir

    Largemouth bass

    • Pelican Lake
    • Mantua Reservoir

    Rainbow, cutthroat, brown or tiger trout

    • Deer Creek Reservoir
    • Steinaker Reservoir
    • Starvation Reservoir
    • East Canyon Reservoir
    • Strawberry Reservoir ("Strawberry provides fantastic fishing for big trout, and lots of them," Cushing says.)
    • Birch Creek Reservoir
    • Scofield Reservoir (Both Birch Creek and Scofield provide good fishing for big tiger trout, Cushing says.)

    Lake trout

    • Flaming Gorge Reservoir and Fish Lake ("You have a good chance to catch some big fish at these waters," he says.)

    Burbot

    • Flaming Gorge Reservoir

    Crappie

    • Pineview Reservoir (Cushing says crappie can be tricky to catch. "They suspend at various depths," he says, "so they can be tough to find. "But if you catch a crappie at a certain depth, keep fishing that depth," he says, "and you should do well. Pineview has a good population of crappie."

    Kokanee salmon

    • Causey Reservoir and Porcupine Reservoir Cushing says the best ice fishing for kokanee salmon happens at the two waters at the start of the ice fishing season. "When ice first forms on these waters," he says, "salmon fishing can be fantastic for about two to three weeks."

    White bass

    • Utah Lake (This is another water where the best fishing happens early in the ice fishing season. "Fishing for white bass is usually best from the time the ice forms until about mid January," Cushing says. "The harbors at the lake are the best places to catch them through the ice.")

    Some of the best fishing of the year

    Cushing says the arrival of winter doesn't mean fishing is over until the spring. "Winter can be the most fun and productive, and the least expensive time of the year to fish," he says. "New lakes, new opportunities and new species of fish are out there for you to enjoy. Get out there, and take advantage of it."

    Videos

    More ice fishing basics are available in two videos produced by the DWR. You can see the videos at www.youtube.com/UDWR.

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