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Brad Kerr

Mantua Reservoir offers great ice fishing

By Brad Kerr, KSL.com Contributor  |  Posted Dec 12th, 2017 @ 12:26pm


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MANTUA RESERVOIR — Now that there is some ice on Mantua Reservoir, many anglers are getting ready for early season ice fishing.

Division of Wildlife Resources officials released a fishing report for Mantua Reservoir on Friday and said the reservoir is currently capped with approximately 1-2 inches of ice. They said ice that thin is not safe to walk on, so anglers should hold off on ice fishing a little longer.

"You cannot launch boats either since the boat ramp is frozen over," the wildlife agency stated on its website. "Prior to current ice conditions, we received a few reports of anglers having extremely good success fishing for trout from shore using green PowerBait. Once the ice is safe, winter fishing should be great."

While you can't currently ice fish there, here are some tips and techniques that will help enhance your fishing experience when you are able to go.

What fish species are in Mantua Reservoir?

To start, let’s take a look at the fish available in this northern Utah reservoir. On any given day, anglers can catch bluegill, largemouth bass, perch and rainbow trout. For those looking for catch-and-release fishing, the action can be fast and furious in the early mornings and late in the afternoon. This is a kid-friendly spot where young ones can experience success with ice fishing.

You never know what you may bring up next when a fish is tugging on your line at Mantua, which is a part of the thrill of fishing there.

What is safe ice?

Utah State Park officials said ice that is 4 inches thick will typically hold the weight of a person and ice that is 5 inches thick will hold a snowmobile or ATV. However, it is not recommended to drive a vehicle on the ice. Cutting a “test hole” near the shoreline can show you what you’re up against, but don’t cover it back over with snow or ice after you do so. If someone steps into that cut hole, not recognizing that it is there, it can cause injury. Always leave the hole visible.

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If you tend to see a lot of anglers and tents spread across the lake, there’s a good chance the ice is safe enough to fish. With some decent success, you can set yourself up for a nice fish fry when you get back home. But be cautious; sometimes advisories are put out for certain bodies of water that might contain unhealthy levels of contaminants. Just be careful and always check the temperature before you venture out onto the ice.

Necessary equipment

Mantua Reservoir can be slick as glass on the surface when it ices over. Ice spikes on your boots will go a long way in preventing hard falls that can potentially injure an angler. Consider purchasing some if you don’t have any in your bucket of ice fishing equipment.

A small tent and heater will help keep you and your kids warm while ice fishing. The fun ends when someone is suffering from cold extremities. Hand-warmers in both gloves and boots help as well.

A wire bobber, or strike indicator, will help you hook up most of your biting fish. These are very inexpensive, but make all the difference in having success and not being frustrated by the lack of visible hits.

For those fishing with two poles, consider actively jigging one pole, and fishing the other as a “dead stick.” Just leave it in a rod holder, perhaps with bells on the tip to get your attention when a fish is on. These bells can be purchased to attach to your pole from most fishing outlets. In this way, you can also find out what presentation is working best on a particular day; active or inactive.

Sunblock is a big item to have in your gear because there’s nothing quite like the sunburn you can get while on the ice, above the inversion.

Lures and bait

Small jigs under a spoon, used as a flasher to attract fish and add weight to your rig, are as good as any setup you can use. Dropping only a small jig (and there are a wide variety of choices) can take time when you may be in a group of fish and need to get back in the strike zone quickly. Adding a small Kastmaster spoon, for example, about a foot above your jig will get your offering down much quicker. Removing the spoon’s hook helps reduce tangles, but fish can be caught on the spoon alone at times. The added weight has an additional feature of importance: It helps take the slack out of your line, making those light strikes easier to read.

A variety of baits, from nightcrawlers to meal worms and wax worms, to Berkley Power Nuggets and maggots will keep fish interested. Tip your ice jigs with a waxie or half a mealworm and hang on for some action. Putting on some liquid fish attractant will disperse in the water, adding to the scent trail of baits.

Where to fish in the water column

Think of your “casts” as being vertical and then work the water column below you at different depths. Many locations on Mantua Reservoir are less than 20 feet deep, and fish can be caught in as little as 10 feet of water. Keep your lure near the bottom— thumping the jig/spoon combination on the bottom itself is attractive to fish. Perch mostly cruise the bottom of flat areas, and the bass, bluegill and rainbows will follow suit.

This takes away so much worry about where to keep your bait in relation to the vertical drop — the bottom is where you want to be. Teasing fish with a slow rise of your lure often triggers bites.

Always be aware of fishing policies by checking the Utah Fishing Guidebook for catch limits and special regulations that might be in place.

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