THE GREAT OUTDOORS — Especially when you are fishing for panfish, there’s a desire at times to fry some up for lunch while out on the ice. However, rules from the 2019 Utah Fishing Guidebook must be adhered to in order to make this practice legal.
When can you have a fish fry?
As an example, let's say you’ve taken a group of kids to Pineview Reservoir to fish for perch. Some have never ice fished before and others have never enjoyed the tasty fillets these small fish have to offer. Both can be done on the same trip, according to Utah Division of Wildlife Resources spokesperson Mark Hadley.
“According to page 20 of the 2019 Utah Fishing Guidebook – under the ‘Possession of filleted fish’ heading – as long as you stop fishing for the day, filleting the fish you caught, and serving it to (others) is totally fine," Hadley said. "If the kids start adding their fish to your pile, though, that wouldn’t be OK."
“Just make sure the kids hold onto the fish they catch, and you only fillet the fish you catch, and you’ll be legal,” he added.
The fishing guide also notes that once you clean the fish, you should not dispose of the entrails and carcasses on the bank, but should instead leave them in the water where you caught the fish.
Where can you have a fish fry?
While, cleaning and cooking the fish you caught after you are done fishing is typically allowed, it is not legal to do so at all bodies of water in Utah or with all species of fish. Strawberry, Scofield and Lost Creek reservoirs and Panguitch Lake do not allow the filleting of fish or removal of the heads or tails of trout and salmon in the field.
Make sure you know the regulations before you attempt to cook your fish at the body of water where you caught them.
Building a fire directly on the ice is probably not the safest way to go about cooking the fish you catch. A Coleman stove, or other similar device, is efficient and heats very well, but doesn’t weaken the ice below it. Some use a metal base for building a fire, but this becomes hot and can begin to melt the ice around it. A stove allows you to set a frying pan or griddle flat over the fire without becoming a safety concern.
As always, be sure to check the ice you’re about to fish on to make sure it is a safe. Four inches of ice is safe for a small group of anglers and their gear, but make sure to check the temperature that day and check the surrounding ice for puddles or holes.
Before you venture out onto the ice, cut holes near the shoreline to check the thickness of the ice. Don’t ever cover the holes back up, as someone may step in one and possibly get stuck with a boot wedged under the ice.