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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 of 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

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

Strawberry Reservoir is a great place to catch big cutthroat trout.

Strawberry Reservoir is a great place to catch big cutthroat trout.

Photo courtesy of Chris Penne

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

Maybe only one thing: Knowing which waters 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 each water and where fishing is the best.

DWR biologists, officers and outreach personnel update the report every one to two weeks. You can read the report at wildlife.utah.gov/hotspots.

Other Internet sources — such as bigfishtackle.com and utahwildlife.net — 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 should produce great fishing for the following fish this winter:

Yellow perch

Larger perch:

Pineview Reservoir

Starvation Reservoir

Rockport Reservoir

Smaller, but more abundant perch:

Fish Lake

Mantua Reservoir

Echo 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."

Bluegill

Larger bluegill:

Pelican Lake

Steinaker Reservoir

Smaller, but more abundant bluegill:

Mantua Reservoir

Largemouth bass

Pelican Lake

Mantua Reservoir

Rainbow, cutthroat or brown trout

Deer Creek Reservoir

Steinaker Reservoir

Starvation Reservoir

East Canyon Reservoir

Scofield Reservoir

Strawberry Reservoir

"Strawberry provides fantastic fishing for big trout, and lots of them," Cushing says.

Tiger trout

Birch Creek Reservoir

Scofield Reservoir

"Both of these waters provide good fishing for big tiger trout," Cushing says.

Lake trout

Flaming Gorge Reservoir

Fish Lake

"These waters provide a good chance to catch some big fish," 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," he says, "keep fishing that depth, and you should do well. Pineview has a good population of crappie."

Kokanee salmon

Causey Reservoir

Porcupine Reservoir

Cushing says the best ice fishing for kokanee salmon happens 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 just because winter is here doesn't mean fishing is over until spring. "Winter can be the most fun, the most productive and the least expensive time of the year to fish," he says. "New lakes, new opportunities and new species of fish are waiting for you. I really hope you can get out and enjoy it."

Videos

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

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