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, meal worm, 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 curlytail 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!