Posted Tuesday, 31 December 2013 11:55
Dozens of waters in Utah provide good ice fishing action
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.
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!
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:
Smaller, but more abundant perch:
"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."
Smaller, but more abundant bluegill:
Rainbow, cutthroat or brown trout
Deer Creek Reservoir
East Canyon Reservoir
"Strawberry provides fantastic fishing for big trout, and lots of them," Cushing says.
Birch Creek Reservoir
"Both of these waters provide good fishing for big tiger trout," Cushing says.
Flaming Gorge Reservoir
"These waters provide a good chance to catch some big fish," he says.
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."
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."
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."
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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