Utah Division of Wildlife Resources Press Release
If you like to catch trout and other coldwater fish from the shore, pay attention to Utah’s fishing reports. Some of the best shore fishing of the year is about to begin.
The ice has melted at most of the mid-elevation waters in Utah. In the next week or two, additional mid-elevation waters will also experience “ice off.”
As the ice leaves, the sun hits the shallow water near the shore. If the sun stays out and the wind stays calm, the water near the shore can warm quickly.
As the water warms, trout and other coldwater fish move into the shallow water in search of food. These fish are hungry. It’s been awhile since they’ve had a decent meal.
“At many of the state’s trout fishing waters, spring is the best time to fish from the shore,” said Roger Wilson, aquatic section chief for the Division of Wildlife Resources, “ It’s a great time to take your kids fishing. They can catch a bunch of fish using simple techniques and simple fishing equipment.”
Usually lasts one to two weeks
Fast fishing usually lasts only a short period of time. If the sky stays clear and the wind stays calm, fishing can be fast and furious for one to two weeks. Then, as water across the lake or reservoir warms, trout start to move away from the shore.
Your ice-off fishing experience can last a lot longer than one to two weeks, though. If you stay updated on which waters are losing ice, and you’re willing to travel a bit, you can extend your ice-off fishing experience into April.
You can stay updated on which waters are experiencing ice off by checking daily and weekly fishing reports.
Another great resource is www.wildlife.utah.gov/hotspots. DWR personnel across Utah update fishing reports on this site every week.
Stores that sell fishing tackle and stores at various marinas in Utah also have excellent, up-to-date information.
Wilson has another tip. “When you visit a water pay attention to what the anglers around you are doing,” he said. “Pay attention to what the anglers around you are doing. If they’re catching fish with a certain lure or bait, and you have that same lure or bait in your tackle box, put it on your line and use it.”
During ice-off, Wilson explained trout often cruise the shoreline in groups called schools. For that reason, it’s important to be patient.
“You have to be patient in the spring,” Wilson stated. “You can sit for awhile with no action, and then, all of the sudden, it’s ‘pop, pop, pop’ as a school of trout moves through the area and hits your bait or lure.”
Tips for success
Wilson provides the following tips for success:
If you’re fishing for rainbow trout, PowerBait and nightcrawlers are excellent baits to use during ice off. Wilson recommended placing a large sinker on your line, a foot or two above your hook, and then casting your bait and letting it sink to the bottom of the water you’re fishing.
Another strategy is to float your bait one or two feet off the bottom. PowerBait comes in a floating variety that will float at whatever distance you place the hook from the sinker.
You can also catch cutthroat trout, tiger trout, lake trout and splake (a cross between a lake trout and a brook trout) with nightcrawlers or PowerBait. However, chub meat is much more effective.
Drew Cushing, warm water sport fisheries coordinator for the DWR, said cutthroat trout, tiger trout, lake trout and splake are predatory fish. “Chubs are one of the main fish they prey on,” he explained. “That makes chub meat one of the best baits to use during ice off.”
Chubs and the four trout species live in the same waters. To catch a chub, put a bobber on your line about two or three feet above your hook, crimp a split shot about one foot above your hook and then place a small piece of nightcrawler on the hook.
Cast your offering out and then wait for a chub to bite.
After you catch a chub, cut its meat into small pieces. Then, to catch a trout, place a piece of chub meat on the same hook you caught the chub on and cast it out, letting the chub meat dangle beneath your bobber.
Lures and flies
If you decide to use a lure or a fly, use one that resembles a leech. Dark-colored tube jigs and grubs are excellent lures to try. For fly anglers, dark wooly buggers are the ticket.
To fish these lures and flies effectively:
– Fill a clear plastic bobber about half full of water. The water will make the bobber heavier, but it will still float.
– Slide the bobber about two to three feet up your line and then crimp a small split shot below the bobber. The split shot will prevent the bobber from sliding down on your lure.
– Tie your jig or fly to the end of the line, and cast it out.
– After the jig or fly hits the water, it will sink below the bobber. Slowly retrieve the jig or fly back to you. Watch the bobber; as soon as a fish takes your lure or fly, the bobber will start to move or it will go under the water. When it does, pull back on your rod and set the hook.
Wilson suggested coating your lure with Smelly Jelly or another type of scent. Also, placing a piece of nightcrawler onto your lure’s hook is another great idea.
“This is especially important if you’re fishing a plastic lure,” he said. “Even if a fish has already struck the lure, if the lure has some scent on it, there’s a good chance the fish will strike it again.”
Cast onto the ice
Wilson said the open water near the edge of the ice is a great spot to cast your bait or to start retrieving your lure. If the ice isn’t too far away, getting your bait or lure to the edge of the ice is easy. Simply cast your bait or lure onto the ice and then retrieve it towards you until it falls into the water at the edge of the ice.