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,” says Randy Oplinger, cold water sport fisheries coordinator for the Division of Wildlife Resources, “Utah has some of the best ice fishing in the country. The state provides a wide variety of fish to catch. And many of these opportunities are close to your home.”
Oplinger says Utah County is a prime 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.
To help you decide which water to visit, check the following websites for fishing and ice condition updates: wildlife.utah.gov/hotspots, bigfishtackle.com or utahwildlife.net.
Remember that ice 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 your weight.
Ice thickness usually increases the farther you get from shore, 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
As another ice fishing season begins, Oplinger picks the following as the best waters to ice fish in Utah this winter. His choices are based on what DWR biologists saw during fish sampling surveys in 2016. In addition to the water, he lists the species within that water for which fishing should be best:
East Canyon Reservoir : Rainbow trout
Hyrum Reservoir : Rainbow trout and yellow perch
Lost Creek Reservoir : Rainbow trout, tiger trout and large cutthroat trout
Willard Bay Reservoir : Walleye
Deer Creek Reservoir : Rainbow trout and walleye
Brown’s Draw Reservoir : Rainbow trout, brown trout and tiger trout
Flaming Gorge Reservoir : Rainbow trout, lake trout, burbot and smallmouth bass
Starvation Reservoir : Walleye, rainbow trout and yellow perch
Steinaker Reservoir : Rainbow trout, bluegill and largemouth bass
Fish Lake : Rainbow trout, yellow perch and splake
Panguitch Lake : Cutthroat trout, tiger trout and rainbow trout
Some of the best fishing of the year
Oplinger says winter can be the most fun, productive and least expensive time of the year to fish. “I hope you can get out this winter and enjoy some time on the ice,” he says. “Fishing on the ice is a blast. New lakes, new opportunities and new species of fish are waiting for you.”