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Basic Equipment Equals Fish and Fun on the Ice - Ice Fishing Part 2

Catching fish through the ice at Pelican Lake
Basic equipment is all you need to catch fish through the ice in the winter.
photo by Ron Stewart, Utah Division of Wildlife Resources

You don't need a lot of fancy equipment to catch fish through the ice.

A short fishing rod and reel, a few sinkers and hooks, and a package of worms are about all you need. In fact, if you just want to give ice fishing a try, you don't even need an ice auger.

Drew Cushing, warm water sport fisheries coordinator for the Division of Wildlife Resources, says when you visit an ice-covered water in Utah, you'll usually find plenty of holes that have been drilled by other anglers. "If the holes were drilled just a day or two before," he says, "they'll usually have only an inch or two of ice in them. Using a digging bar, you can break that thin ice. Then, you're in business."

If you'd like to create your own holes, you'll need an ice auger. A way to create a hole—and the most basic fishing equipment you can imagine—are all you need to catch lots of fish and have lots of fun.

Watching a video titled "Ice Fishing Basics, Jan. 8, 2015" is a great way to learn more about the basics of ice fishing. The video shows a clinic that was held recently in Salt Lake City. You can watch it at www.youtube.com/UDWR, or below on this page.

"I'd encourage you to watch the video," Cushing says. "After you have, you'll be ready to hit the ice and have some fun."

You can also stay updated on where fishing is best in Utah this winter at www.utahfishinginfo.com/dwr/fishingreports.php, www.wildlife.utah.gov/hotspots, www.bigfishtackle.com and www.utahwildlife.net.

Simple and affordable

In addition to warm clothes and insulated, waterproof boots, Cushing says the following gear is all you need to catch fish through the ice in the winter:

"Wax worms or meal worms are the best worms to use in the winter," Cushing says. "All of the fish you can catch through the ice in Utah will take these worms."

If you like to fish with lures, buy some small jigs, ice flies or small jigging spoons. Jigs, ice flies and jigging spoons come in several colors. Cushing says chartreuse and red are the two colors that usually produce best when fishing through the ice in Utah. "Make sure you buy a variety of colors, though," he says. "That way, you'll have the color the fish want on the day you're fishing."

Also, make sure to place a small piece of worm or other bait on the tip of the lure's hook. Having a piece of bait on your hook will increase the chance that a fish bites the lure and hangs onto the hook.

An ice auger or a digging bar. A manual ice auger (one you turn by hand) costs about $50. You can pick up a digging bar for as little as $5 to $10.

Cushing says some anglers use gas-powered augers. But, you usually don't need one.

"If you have a hand auger," he says, "you can drill through six to eight inches of ice in about a minute. Unless you're trying to drill through two feet of ice, you probably don't need a gas-powered auger."

Because fish bite softly in the winter, buying attachments that will help you detect the subtle bites of the fish is a great idea. Spring bobbers (an extension that attaches to the end of your fishing pole) and various floats are among the items that will help you know you have a fish on the end of your line.

Back to Part 1.

Part 3

Next week's story will help you catch fish through the ice using the simple equipment mentioned in this story.

(See also Ice Fishing Part 4.)

More ice fishing tips here.