Utah Travel Headlines Blog

Wednesday, December 13, 2006

Ice Fishing Season Begins In Utah

Scofield Reservoir is frozen and offers good ice fishing for trout (rainbows, cutthroat and tiger trout). It is usually the first major water in Utah to freeze and thus ushers in the beginning of the ice fishing season.

A few small waters freeze earlier and they have been offering good fishing. Huntington Reservoir, in particular, has very good action for nice tiger trout.

Strawberry Reservoir is Utah's most popular fishery and it has ice on some bays and a cap down near the dam, but open water over most of the reservoir. A few brave (foolish) anglers have been fishing that new ice and they report fair to good success.

Jordanelle has ice around the Provo River inlet and some early birds are fishing there. The rest of the reservoir has open water. It will provide good action for trout and perch as the ice firms up.

Pelican Lake is completely frozen and offers fair but spotty ice fishing for bluegill.

The next good cold snap should firm up the ice on Strawberry, Jordanelle, Otter Creek and most other popular Utah trout waters. Fish Lake usually does not freeze until around Christmas. Bear Lake and the upper end of Flaming Gorge sometimes freeze during January, but sometimes stay open. Lake Powell and the waters around St George do not freeze.

The Utah Division of Wildlife Resources provided the following news release about fishing Scofield:

Ice is on at Scofield Reservoir

The long-awaited ice-over has finally occurred at Scofield Reservoir, signaling some of the best fishing of the year! Last week, the thermometer plunged to record lows, transforming a skiff of shoreline ice into a rock-solid frozen mass.

Early season ice fishing is traditionally some of the best of the year. Last weekend, anglers yanked out a number of 14- to16-inch rainbows, mixed with some six- to eight-inch planters, as well as cutthroats and a few pan-sized tiger trout.

Fishing success is an elusive combination of where you fish, depth, technique and tackle. It changes from day to day and hour to hour. Skill and experience are as important here as in any other sport.

Scofield Success Secrets

Conservation officer and veteran angler Mike Milburn fishes in 10 to 20 feet of water at this time of year. He tends his ice rod faithfully, jigging it periodically. Mike uses a small silver attractor like a Kastmaster or Stinger from which he removes the hook. In its place, Mike ties on 10 to 12 inches of leader, and finishes the rig with a 1/32- or 1/16-ounce chartreuse jig head. The jig head is tipped with a piece of night crawler, mealworm, wax worm or small minnow. This set-up rarely fails Mike, who always has stories to share from his last angling adventure.

Aquatics Biologist Justin Hart volunteered to share some of his secrets as well. Justin likes to fish in 12 to 15 feet of water early in the season. When his tackle hits the bottom, Justin reels in a crank or two. He jigs the bait awhile and then raises it a foot or more at intervals, methodically sampling the entire water column. In terms of end tackle, Justin uses a 1/16-ounce spoon or Swedish Pimple tipped with a chunk of minnow about the size of a dime. He has also had good luck with a curly-tail grub or ice fly and a piece of night crawler or chunk of minnow meat.

Where To Go

For locating fish, Justin offers a few recommendations. The west side just out from Madsen Bay boat launch offers good fishing. Fishing around the island is another good bet year-round. The southeast side of the reservoir is ever-popular for good reason. Time of day is important too. If you can stand frigid temperatures, early morning is a good time to dip a line.

Come January 1, a new regulation change takes effect at Scofield. The trout limit jumps from four to eight fish, doubling angler opportunity. If you haven't ice fished Scofield, this is a great time to give it a try!

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