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Brad Kerr

Where to go and what to use while ice fishing throughout Utah

By Brad Kerr, KSL.com Contributor  |  Posted Nov 10th, 2017 @ 1:43pm


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THE GREAT OUTDOORS — With cold weather bearing down on us, our favorite fishing holes will be freezing over soon to offer wintertime adventures on the ice. If you’re wanting to target specific fish on your trip, it helps to have an idea of where to go to catch them and what to use to have success.

Strawberry Reservoir

Once the good ice covers the big pond, anglers will begin to target cutthroat and rainbow trout. Remember that there are also good numbers of kokanee salmon available at Strawberry Reservoir. While keeping in mind that there is a slot limit on cutthroats (15- to 22-inch cutthroat must be immediately released), this also tells a tale of nice fish available to be caught.

A 20-inch trout is a lot of fun on a short, light-action rod. And fishing can be fast and consistent when on a hot spot. Use a Kastmaster, Daredevle or Swedish Pimple spoon as an attractor and that additional weight helps get your lure into the strike zone quickly. Tube jigs are popular, but jigs like the Rat Finkee or Gitzits are also effective.

Jordanelle Reservoir

A variety of trout options are also available at Jordanelle Reservoir, along with other fish choices. Rainbows, brown trout, smallmouth bass and even tiger muskie are at home here. Most anglers tend to fish the upper arm of the lake, where the upper Provo River comes in. Better ice is generally found on this portion of the reservoir.

Utah Lake

White bass and channel catfish are numerous in this body of water, both being good eating fish. Utah Lake produces good numbers of white bass, which are frequently caught during summer float-tubing months. Northern pike were illegally introduced to the water and should be killed and reported to the Division of Wildlife Resources. Small grubs (the twister-tail variety) are effective with fish at Utah Lake.

Huntington Reservoir

Generally, one of the first lakes to freeze over with safe ice, Huntington can be great fishing for cutthroat and lots of tiger trout. Tube-style jigs or ones with a plastic tail, seem to be very good fish catchers here. Experiment, but use a fish finder if possible— fish tend to hold near the bottom quite frequently.

Causey Reservoir

Rainbow trout, tiger trout and kokanee salmon are frequently caught at Causey Reservoir. Fishing near structures and near steep-wall cliffs as a starting place is effective, especially for the kokanee. Kokanee tend to run in schools and when coming through in big numbers, you’ll think your fish finder is broken because it’ll be marking fish from 10 to 30 feet and the screen will often go black. Kokanee are extremely good to eat, and smoking these 12-inch salmon is a treat.

For trout pursuits, use a fish finder to help locate the depth of the fish you are targeting. Go small with your lures.

Hyrum Reservoir

Hyrum hosts a good number of decent-sized rainbow trout. Fishing near the dam is a hot spot for many anglers, but watch the lake for concentrations of ice tents that may mark good spots as well. Small jigs tipped with wax worms or meal worms also work well at most winter lakes.

Lost Creek

This reservoir is a popular site for ice fishing, especially when seeking rainbow and cutthroat trout. Fishing over deep water for suspended fish can be hot, but a fish finder is of great importance in putting your lure in the strike zone.

Pineview Reservoir

Pineview Reservoir is the home for crappies, perch, bluegill, smallmouth bass, and even the occasional tiger muskie. Cemetery Point, both the north and south sides, is a hot area for anglers. This is a good spot to bring the kids along because when fish are found schooling, especially the crappie and perch near the bottom, action can be fast for everyone in your party.

Tipping your lure with a perch eye, PowerNuggets or live bait will enhance your catch.

Mantua Reservoir

This is the variety lake if there ever was one. You can catch largemouth bass, perch, bluegill and rainbow trout from this body of water. It’s not unusual to catch the “slam” when at Mantua, meaning you catch at least one of each species in the lake. This is a good place to take the younger crowd since everyone should see some success.

Especially early in the season, fish can be caught in relatively shallow water. Consider using liquid fish attractant for added smell on your small lures. You can’t really go too small with jigs at this lake.

Flaming Gorge

This big lake offers lake trout (mackinaw), rainbows, kokanee and even burbot for ice fishing. Burbot fishing is best in the evenings when it's getting dark. While not known for their good looks, these fish do have tasty white meat that anglers fillet away for meals. All burbot caught, must be immediately killed, as they are an invasive species not wanted in the reservoir. They compete with traditional game fish for food, and efforts to eradicate the burbot will likely go unaccomplished due to their high spawning rates.

Anglers can also expect to catch some lake trout and pups (small, nontrophy lake trout), along with the once-in-a-while big mack that is a trophy opportunity for ice fishers. While smallmouth bass also exist in the lake, few are caught for the most part during winter when the lake freezes over. Larger tube jigs will entice the lake trout.

Starvation Reservoir

Walleye, kokanee and some decent sized rainbow trout are available here, giving anglers something to chase under the frozen surface. Crappie, as a forage fish for larger predators, have now been introduced by the Division of Wildlife Resources into Starvation Reservoir.

Fish Lake

Rainbow trout, perch, splake, lake trout, and now kokanee are in the lake, offering a variety of fast fishing opportunities to the hardy angler. Perch and trout fishing can be great for the younger crowd, and adults as well. General ice fishing setups work great, so consider a spoon about a foot above your lure for the attractant factor. Also consider taking a longer trip than usual to Fish Lake for some great fishing action.

High Uinta Lakes

Once the accessible lakes along the Mirror Lake highway are frozen, there can be fast action to keep you busy. A variety of trout (brooks, rainbows and cutthroats), and even Arctic grayling, are catchable. Most will access these lakes after strong cold spells and before the heavy snow flies. After that, many will choose a snowmobile as the transportation of choice to get to these high lakes. Always make sure you are prepared for conditions and have checked a weather forecast before venturing into these areas during winter.

Conclusion

While this rundown isn’t a complete list of fishing holes for avid ice anglers, it is a starting point and will give interested folks a location to find their favorite fish to catch. General ice fishing setups are used frequently at all these waters. Just be sure to not use too large of a jig or spoon for the fish you’re targeting.

Where is your favorite place to go ice fishing? Let us know in the comments.

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