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SALT LAKE CITY — Many Utahns dread the winter season for the cold temperatures and the snow that has to be shoveled. But, great outdoorsmen will tell you that the winter months can offer some of the best fishing of the year. For those who haven't had the opportunity to go ice fishing, here are five good places to give a try.
This is a great spot to take the kids as the fishing can be fast and furious which will keep your children busy and not bored. The main target species during the ice season is perch and crappie. Fishing in depths from 15 to 35 feet of water is the most productive. Most fish stay pretty close to the bottom of the reservoir, but the crappie can be suspended at times and a fish finder is the most useful in locating these fish.
Early morning and late afternoon are the best times to fish for these species and suspended crappie can be active until late into the night. Small baits rigged under a castmaster or Swedish pimples are the best way to get your bait to the bottom fast, and baits such as ratso's, rat finky's, shrimpos & nuclear ants in various colors (white, green and red) work great.
Tip your baits with wax worms, meal worms, gulp maggots, spikes and after you have caught a few fish, some perch eyes or meat also work great for bait. Popular fishing areas include north and south of Cemetery Point, Browning Point and the narrows by the dam.
Size: 2,874 acres
Maximum Depth: 81 feet (average of 44 feet)
Species: Large mouth bass, small mouth bass, tiger musky, rainbow trout, crappie, yellow perch, and bluegill
Another great place for ice fishing is Mantua Reservoir. The main fish that are caught here during the winter are trout, blue gills and large mouth bass. The most effective tackle and baits for Mantua Reservoir is the same as used at Pineview Reservoir.
Most fish swim toward the bottom and there are great numbers of blue gills to keep the kids busy. It is better to start fishing at the deepest part of the reservoir which is located by the knoll northeast from the boat ramp. Moving around will also help you try and find active fish in shallower water.
The perch found at Mantua Reservoir this winter season have been around 10 to 11 inches which make for great filets.
County: Box Elder
Size: 554 acres
Maximum Depth: 20 ft
Species: Large mouth Bass, rainbow trout, cutthroat trout, bluegill, yellow perch and green sunfish
This body of water is very large and can be a place that can give you anywhere from 100 fish a day to going home empty handed. The more time you spend at Strawberry Reservoir, the more you find where active fish can be. However several good spots for ice fishing at Strawberry Reservoir are the Chicken Creek areas, Mud Creek (which usually freezes first during the winter season), and the Soldier Creek side past the aspen grove camp ground and by the dam.
Good depths for fishing at Strawberry Reservoir are anywhere from 10 to 30 feet. Effective tackle for the fish at Strawberry mainly consists of paddle bugs, cutter bugs, foxie jigs and atomic teaser tail jigs in white, green or pink. Atomic tubes in pumpkin pepper have also worked great at Strawberry Reservoir. Another good tackle method is to use a heavier bead head fly suspended under their main jig as a dropper. Baits of wax worms, meal worms, nightcrawlers and red side shiners all prove effective.
Size: 17,164 acres
Maximum Depth: 200 feet
Species: Cutthroat Trout, Rainbow Trout, Kokanee Salmon
Lost Creek Reservoir
Lost Creek Reservoir used to allow overnight camping and fishing, but now it is designated as day-use only. However, it still provides excellent fishing all over the reservoir. This winter season, there have been some nice fish caught around the dam which is fished the most because of the easy access from the plowed parking lot. The plows don't always make it so easy and a bit of a walk or a snow machine may be required.
The same baits and tackle used at Strawberry Reservoir are also effective at Lost Creek Reservoir because mainly trout are caught at this location. Cliff areas are hot spots for fishing and there are plenty of cliff areas at Lost Creek Reservoir.
Elevation: 6,000 feet
Fish species: Cutthroat trout, rainbow trout, brown trout, tiger trout
Fishing at Rockport Reservoir is always fun because of the abundance of species to catch in the winter. Trout can be caught in shallower areas because they linger right under the ice while perch can be caught in deeper water. Rainbow trout swim under the ice all day from about 5 to 10 feet down.
Pan fish rigs and trout rigs all work great as bait at Rockport Reservoir.
Size: 1,189 acres
Maximum Depth: 150 feet (average of 64 feet)
Species: Brown trout, rainbow trout, tiger trout, small mouth bass and yellow perch
What are your favorite spots to go ice fishing? Let us know on the comment boards.