VERNAL — You can learn how to catch fish through the ice by attending two free ice fishing seminars. And you might even win a prize.
The Division of Wildlife Resources and Sportsman’s Warehouse have teamed up to offer the free seminars. They’ll be held at Sportsman’s Warehouse, 2015 US-40 in Vernal.
A Dec. 21 seminar will cover the basics of ice fishing. An advanced seminar — aimed at helping you catch burbot and lake trout at Flaming Gorge Reservoir — will be held Jan. 5. Each seminar runs from 5–7 p.m.
To attend either seminar, you must register online in advance. The number of spots is limited, so please register as soon as you can.
Tonya Kieffer, regional outreach manager for the DWR, says the seminars are open to anyone who has an interest in ice fishing. “The seminars are a great opportunity to ask biologists and ice fishing experts what you can do to improve your success on the ice,” she says. “And the best part is, they’re free.”
Kieffer says the Dec. 21 seminar is aimed at helping beginning anglers gain the skills needed to help them feel comfortable getting on the ice and catching fish. The Jan. 5 seminar will provide advanced tips and techniques to those who are already familiar with ice fishing and are ready to try something new.
“When you’re prepared,” she says, “fishing through the ice can be the best time to fish. That’s the goal behind the two seminars: to help you prepare for the upcoming season so you can get outside and reduce your cabin fever this winter.”
With temperatures in the Uinta Basin consistently dipping below the freezing mark, Kieffer says lakes in the area are freezing fast. In fact, ice fishing has begun at many of the higher elevation waters in the region. “It’s time to get prepared to ice fish,” she says.
Basic seminar – Dec. 21
The Dec. 21 seminar will help beginning anglers catch fish at six local waters: Pelican Lake and Big Sand Wash, Brown’s Draw, Red Fleet, Starvation and Steinaker reservoirs. Basic ice fishing techniques, ice safety and lure selection will all be covered.
At the end of the seminar, a prize drawing will be held. You must be present to win. “Last year, we were able to give away two ice augers,” Kieffer says, “so there’s no telling what’s in store this year.”
Advanced seminar – Jan. 5
The Jan. 5 seminar will focus on teaching you how to catch burbot and lake trout at Flaming Gorge Reservoir. “The annual Burbot Bash and Burbot Classic are coming up at the end of January and the start of February,” Kieffer says. “This will be a great opportunity to get stocked up on the information and gear you need to catch burbot this winter.”
Ryan Mosley, the DWR’s lead fisheries biologist at Flaming Gorge, will be among the DWR biologists who provide information that night. “This seminar will focus on catching the more specialized or difficult-to-catch species in Flaming Gorge,” Kieffer says. “Ice safety, essential fishing gear, baits and lures, where to go, and tips and techniques for catching burbot and lake trout during the winter months will all be covered. The biologists will also be happy to answer any questions you have.”
If you have questions about the seminars, call the DWR’s Vernal office at 435-781-9453.
Basic ice fishing tips
Before the seminars happen, Kieffer shares the following ice fishing advice:
When heading onto the ice this season, always drill a few test holes to determine how thick the ice is. “The ice should be at least four inches thick before heading out to fish,” she says.
For beginners, any fishing rod and reel you have will work for ice fishing. A small, inexpensive rod and reel, designed specifically for ice fishing, is something you might want to consider buying, though.
Wear warm clothes and dress in layers. “Your clothes should include warm socks; warm, waterproof boots; a hat; gloves; and insulated coats and pants,” she says. “It’s especially important to make sure your kids are wearing warm boots that are waterproof. They won’t have much fun if their feet are cold and wet.”
When heading out on the ice, it’s also a good idea, especially if you’re bringing your family, to have a supply of snacks and drinks on hand.
“Ice fishing is a fast growing sport in Utah that should be shared with family and friends of all ages,” she says. “Watching your kids catch their first fish through the ice is one of the best memories you’ll ever make.”