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Good Ice Fishing, Close to Home - Ice Fishing Part 4


Strawberry Reservoir is a great place to catch big cutthroat trout.
Strawberry Reservoir is a great place to catch big cutthroat trout.
Photo courtesy of Chris Penne, Utah DWR

Dozens of waters in Utah provide good ice fishing action

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 about how to locate fish and catch them through the ice.

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!

Ice conditions

Warm temperatures have presented some challenges to ice anglers in Utah this winter. Ice conditions are good at some of the state's best ice fishing waters, while other prime waters have poor conditions.

To help you decide which water to visit, check the following websites for ice condition updates: www.utahfishinginfo.com/dwr/fishingreports.php, www.wildlife.utah.gov/hotspots, www.bigfishtackle.com and www.utahwildlife.net.

Remember that conditions can change from day to day. Even if an online report says ice conditions are good, drill some test holes to see how thick the ice is. At least four inches of solid, clear ice is needed to safely support an angler's weight.

Ice thickness usually increases the farther from shore you get, but move cautiously: you can still run into patches of thin ice, even in the middle of a body of water.

Best ice fishing waters

Cushing says the following waters should produce good fishing, for the following fish, through the remainder of the winter:

Yellow perch

Larger perch:

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."

Bluegill

Larger bluegill:

Smaller, but more abundant bluegill:

Largemouth bass

Rainbow, cutthroat or brown trout

"Strawberry provides fantastic fishing for big trout," Cushing says, "and lots of them."

Tiger trout

"Both of these waters provide good fishing for big tiger trout," Cushing says.

Lake trout

Crappie

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."

Kokanee salmon

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."

White bass

This is another water where the best fishing happens early in the ice fishing season. "Fishing for white bass usually tapers off around mid January," Cushing says. "There's still a chance you can catch some, though. 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."

(See also Ice Fishing Part 1, Ice Fishing Part 2 and Ice Fishing Part 3.)

More ice fishing tips here.