Basic Equipment Equals Fish and Fun on the Ice

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Utah Division of Wildlife Resources Press Release

Anglers do not need a lot of fancy equipment to catch fish through the ice in Utah.

A short fishing rod and reel, a few sinkers and hooks and a package of worms are about all that’s needed. In fact, if anglers just want to give ice fishing a try, they don’t even need an ice auger.

Division of Wildlife Resources warm water fisheries coordinator Drew Cushing says when visiting an ice-covered water in Utah, anglers usually find plenty of holes that have been drilled by other fishermen. “If the holes were drilled just a day or two before,they will have only an inch or two of ice in them,” he explained. “Just break that thin ice, and you’re in business.”

If creating ice holes, an ice auger or a digging bar will be needed. A way to create a hole—and the most basic fishing equipment imaginable—is all that’s needed to catch lots of fish and have fun.

In addition to warm clothes and insulated, waterproof boots, Cushing says the following gear is all that’s needed to catch fish through the ice in the winter:

– A short fishing rod and a small reel.

– Some small hooks or jigs and some sinkers.

– A package of wax worms or meal worms.

Wax worms and meal worms are easy to keep alive in the winter. They’ll last a long time on a hook. “Wax worms or meal worms are the best worms to use in the winter,” Cushing says.  “All of the fish you can catch through the ice in Utah will take these worms.”

Those who like to fish with lures should buy some small ice flies or small jigs. Ice flies and jigs come in several colors. Cushing says chartreuse and red are the two colors that usually produce best when fishing through the ice in Utah. “Make sure to buy a variety of colors, though,” he explains.  “That way, you’ll have the color the fish want on any given day.”

Also, place a small piece of worm or other bait on the tip of the lure’s hook. Having a piece of bait on the hook will increase the chance that a fish bites the lure and hangs onto the hook.

– A digging bar or an ice auger. A manual ice auger (turns by hand) costs about $50. A digging bar sells for as little as $5 to $10.

Cushing says some anglers use gas-powered augers. But a gas-powered auger usually is not needed. “With a hand auger, anglers can drill through six to eight inches of ice in about a minute,” he explained. “Unless drilling through two feet of ice, a gas powered auger is not needed.”

– Because fish bite softly in the winter, anglers may also want to buy attachments that will help detect the subtle bites of the fish. Spring bobbers and various floats are among the items that will alert anglers that a fish is on the end of the line.

Stay updated on where winter fishing is best in Utah at www.wildlife.utah.gov/hotspots.

Two additional websites, bigfishtackle.com and utahwildlife.net also provide updated information.

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