Getting Started on the Ice
|Local fishermen participate in ice fishing on many of the areas lakes and reservoirs. |
One of my earliest and best memories is of my first ice fishing experience. I was 4 years old, it was a sunny day, I made a snowman, we ate hot dogs, and my dad let me reel in all of the fish that he hooked. From that moment on, ice fishing has become one of my favorite types of fishing. If you have never been ice fishing before, this year should give you a great chance to get out there and try.
This first thing to think about when you are going ice fishing is safety. Be sure to only go ice fishing when the ice has been deemed safe. This can be accomplished by calling the DWR at 435-636-0260. Also, children should be accompanied by adults
and take plenty of warm clothing, snacks and drinking water or warm drinks. Other items that may be needed are sunblock, sunglasses, and waterproof clothing.
Before you get out on the ice, there are a few things that you will need. First you need an ice rod and reel. Second you will need a jig, spoon or ice fly. You may also need some bait, pieces of earthworms, waxworms, mealworms, or dead minnows. An ice auger is also a must along with an ice skimmer.
A plastic sled can be used to bring all of your gear out on the ice and a five gallon bucket can be used to carry your gear and sit on while you are fishing.
OK, you're at the lake, the ice is safe, and you are ready to go ice fishing. You look around and can't decide where to go. A key to selecting a good ice fishing spot is to look at the shoreline. By looking at the land around the lake you can usually figure out how deep the water is along the shore. If the shoreline has steep banks, cliffs, or a dam along it, the water will probably be deep. If the land along the water is flat, you may want to go out more toward the middle of the lake to find deeper water.
When you are ice fishing for trout, deep (15 or more feet deep) water is usually your best choice. Another key to selecting a good ice fishing spot is to look for places where other anglers have gone ice fishing. Old holes that are frozen over are easier to cut through with an auger and are a clue that other anglers have had good luck catching fish through the ice in this area.
A jig or ice fly is usually your best choice when ice fishing. Choosing how colorful and shiny these lures are is probably the most important thing. When choosing a lure color, you have to think like a fish. Remember even though is may be a sunny day, when there is snow on the ice it is dark below the ice. Sunlight can't get through the snow, it reflects off of the snowy surface.
A basic rule to follow when choosing the lure that the fish are going to be able to see best under the ice. What color can you see best in the dark? Black or neon green, silver or gold, shiny or dull, the light conditions will be the determining factor. When the ice is covered with snow or it is cloudy, use a bright neon colored, shiny lure. However, when fishing on ice with no snow on the surface when it is sunny, try several colors, and shiny silvered colored lure may work the best.
Two things to think about when deciding the size of lure to use are the size of the fish you are trying to catch and how hard they are biting. If you're trying to catch larger fish, a large jig is probably your best choice. But, if the fish are small or they are just nibbling, try a smaller lure like an ice fly.
The final thing to determine is the depth you put your lure. The key is to find out what depth the fish are at. The best thing to do to find the fish is to start fishing just off the bottom. If you fish at this depth for 15 minutes and have not had a bite or caught a fish, reel the line up another foot. Keep repeating this every 15 minutes until your lure is just a few feet below the surface of the ice. If you have reeled your lure up to the point where you can see it and you have not had a bite, it is time to change the size and color of your lure and start back at the bottom again.
As ice begins to form on local lakes, reservoirs and ponds the fishing begins to pick up. Ice fishing at Scofield Reservoir has been excellent. Anglers are having the best luck using small jigs and ice flies tipped with small pieces of worm or minnows.
As we get into February, ice should be forming on some other hot spots in the area. Joe's Valley will give you a chance to catch splake up to 15 pounds. The best way to catch splake is to use some of the large jigs and spoons tipped with a large piece of minnow or worm.
Once the ice has formed on Huntington North Reservoir, large brown can be caught. Ice conditions are safe if the ice is more than five inches thick.
DWR is recommending that fishermen stay off Cleveland Reservoir due to the water releases that will take place during the winter months. These releases cause unsafe ice conditions on the reservoir.
At the present time, Millsite is partially thawed and the ice is not safe. Cold weather that usually comes will make the ice safe at a later date. The DWR also recommends Huntington Lake on SR-31 for tiger trout.