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Cold Ice Means Hot Ice Fishing

Cold Ice Means Hot Ice Fishing
Cold Ice Means Hot Ice Fishing

Winter is one of the best times to catch fish

Did you know that fishing through the ice is a great way to catch fish and beat the winter blues?

It's true-those "crazy" people you see standing on the ice aren't so crazy after all. They've discovered a fun way to get outside, breathe some fresh air and catch lots of fish.

Drew Cushing, warm water sport fisheries coordinator for the Division of Wildlife Resources, says ice fishing provides advantages you won't find during other times of the year. "And the fishing can be really good," he says.

You can stay updated on where fishing is best in Utah at www.utahfishinginfo.com/dwr/fishingreports.php or www.wildlife.utah.gov/hotspots. Two additional websites—www.bigfishtackle.com and www.utahwildlife.net-also provide updated ice fishing information.

A cheap and fun way to fish

Cushing says there are several reasons you should consider fishing on a frozen lake, reservoir or pond this winter:

If you like to fish with lures, you may want to include some small jigs and ice flies in your tackle box too. Cushing says chartreuse and red tend to be the best colors to use when fishing through the ice.

Sounds great. But isn't it hard to drill a hole through the ice?

One thing that surprises many first-time ice anglers is how easy it is to drill a hole through the ice.

If you have a hand auger, you can drill through six to eight inches of ice in about a minute. "If you're using a digging bar," Cushing says, "try to find some holes that were recently drilled. There's a chance the ice in those holes won't be very thick."

Digging bars cost between $5 and $10. Manual ice augers cost about $50.

Great! But how can I have fun if I’m cold?

Temperatures can be cold during the ice-fishing season. But that doesn't mean you have to be cold. You can stay warm simply by dressing for the conditions.

Cushing says one piece of equipment anglers often forget is a pair of insulated, waterproof boots. As the day warms, slush can develop on top of the ice. "Having a pair of waterproof boots will keep your feet warm and dry," he says.

Also, wear your clothes in layers. That way, if the day warms up, you can remove a layer and still stay warm and comfortable.

Sounds good. But how do I know if the ice is safe to walk on?

Most anglers wait until the ice is at least 4 inches thick before walking on it.

Ice is usually thinnest near the shore. Before you walk out, Cushing says you should drill or dig a test hole to see how thick the ice is. You may also want to drill or dig some additional holes as you walk out.

If the ice in your test holes is at least four inches thick, you can be almost certain that the ice farther out is at least four inches thick, or thicker.

Ice cleats and ice spikes

Ice cleats and ice spikes are two ice-related items you may want to consider buying:

If you fall through the ice, you can pull yourself out by jabbing the spikes into the top of the ice near the edge of the hole. Once the spikes are jabbed into the ice, use them to pull yourself out of the hole.

Part 2

Next week's story will focus on the equipment you'll need to catch fish through the ice.