Fishing on the ice


January 10, 2016 Facebook Twitter LinkedIn Google+ Fishing Tips



Winter is one of the best and easiest times to catch fish.

Did you know that fishing through the ice is a great way to catch fish and beat the winter blues?
Rainbow trout are among the fish you can catch through the ice in Utah.

Rainbow trout are among the fish you can catch through the ice in Utah.

Rainbow trout are among the fish you can catch through the ice in Utah.

Rainbow trout are among the fish you can catch through the ice in Utah.

Photo by Natalie Boren

It’s true — those “crazy” people you see standing on the ice aren’t so crazy after all. They’ve discovered a fun way to get outside, breathe some fresh air and catch lots of fish.

Drew Cushing, warm water sport fisheries coordinator for the Division of Wildlife Resources, says ice fishing provides advantages you won’t find during other times of the year. “And the fishing can be really good,” he says.

You can stay updated on where fishing is best in Utah at wildlife.utah.gov/hotspots. Two additional websites — www.bigfishtackle.com and www.utahwildlife.net — also provide updated ice fishing information.

A cheap and fun way to fish

Cushing says there are several reasons you should consider fishing on a frozen lake, reservoir or pond this winter:

If you’ve stood on the shore in the warmer months, wishing you could fish the same areas those in boats are fishing, ice provides the way. If you’re willing to walk, you can reach any part of a lake or reservoir you want to fish. “An entire body of water opens to you,” Cushing says.
Catching fish in the winter doesn’t require the skill level needed to catch fish during other times of the year. Just drop your bait in front of the fish, and wait for the fish to take it.
You don’t need expensive equipment to catch fish through the ice. A short rod and reel, some hooks and sinkers, wax worms or meal worms, an ice auger or a digging bar, and a large spoon or something you can use to scoop ice chunks that form in the hole you’re fishing, are all you need to get started.

If you like to fish with lures, you may want to include some small jigs and ice flies in your tackle box too. Cushing says chartreuse and red tend to be the best colors to use when fishing through the ice.
Because you can drill two holes close together, it’s a great way to double your fun by fishing with two poles.
In addition to catching fish, it’s easy to talk and socialize with those you’re fishing with. Just drill your holes close together, and have fun. “Most ice anglers really look forward to the social side of ice fishing,” Cushing says.

Sounds great. But isn’t it hard to drill a hole through the ice?

One thing that surprises many first-time ice anglers is how easy it is to drill a hole through the ice.

If you have a hand auger, you can drill through six to eight inches of ice in about a minute. “If you’re using a digging bar,” Cushing says, “try to find some holes that were recently drilled. There’s a chance the ice in those holes won’t be very thick.”

Digging bars cost between $5 and $10. Manual
ice augers cost about $50.

Great! But how can I have fun if I’m cold?

Temperatures can be cold during the ice-fishing season. But that doesn’t mean you have to be cold. You can stay warm simply by dressing for the conditions.

Cushing says one piece of equipment anglers often forget is a pair of insulated, waterproof boots. As the day warms, slush can develop on top of the ice. “Having a pair of waterproof boots will keep your feet warm and dry,” he says.

Also, wear your clothes in layers. That way, if the day warms up, you can remove a layer and still stay warm and comfortable.

Sounds good. But how do I know if the ice is safe to walk on?

Most anglers wait until the ice is at least 4 inches thick before walking on it.

Ice is usually thinnest near the shore. Before you walk out, Cushing says you should drill or dig a test hole to see how thick the ice is. You may also want to drill or dig some additional holes as you walk out.

If the ice in your test holes is at least four inches thick, you can be almost certain that the ice farther out is at least four inches thick, or thicker.

Ice cleats and ice spikes

Ice cleats and ice spikes are two ice-related items you may want to consider buying:

Ice cleats strap to the bottom of your boots. The cleats will give you better traction as you walk on the ice.
Ice spikes are two short pieces of metal. They’re often attached by a short cord that you can drape over your neck.

If you fall through the ice, you can pull yourself out by jabbing the spikes into the top of the ice near the edge of the hole. Once the spikes are jabbed into the ice, use them to pull yourself out of the hole.

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