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Posted by Don on February 22, 2010 in Angler Improvement Articles with No Comments

by Don Allphin

February 22, 2010

Readers sometimes get frustrated when they ask my advice on when, where, and how to catch fish through the ice. I tell them exactly what to do, the baits to use, the depths to try, and the structure to use to target the fish, but sometimes they still come up empty? Why?
The answer lies in a simple but powerful word, PATIENCE. Ice fishing is a wonderful yet perplexing sport. At other times in a year, trout will jump out of the water to let anglers know where they are and that they are ready and willing to bite. But under the ice, fish don’t jump, so anglers have a difficult time locating active fish. “I just bought this underwater camera,” said Brian McKane of West Valley recently. “I haven’t even seen a fish.” Fish finders, video cameras and other devices seem to be the answer for finding fish in the winter, but don’t be too quick to judge. Although McKane didn’t see a single fish on his camera, within 20 minutes four nice rainbows were caught by members of his group within a few yards of his camera. Once again, I ask the question, why?
In the winter, trout like to travel in schools. They move from shallow to deep looking for food. Unlike warm water species, trout remain active most of the time. So, having patience with ice fishing doesn’t mean you need to stay in one spot all day long just in case the school should pass by, it simply means you should have a game plan in place to locate the fish using logic instead of relying entirely on your fish finders.
Trout just like most other species like to live near or pass by main-lake points and will move up and down in the water column targeting their ever-changing food sources. Learning what water depth is best for fish on a given day might require anglers to drill several “test” holes to locate the best population of fish. Try starting in six feet of water. Then drill in 10 feet, then 15, and so on until you reach 32 feet. This is where patience comes in. You must test each of the holes until you begin to get bites. You don’t need to spend more than 20 minutes per site, but patiently work through the area and most of the time you will find the correct water depth for the given day.

Last Saturday on Deer Creek, I watched a group of anglers from Mapleton and West Valley catch some quality fish using ice flies tipped with wax worms. They didn’t all catch fish at once, but the school methodically moved through the water column and targeted each of their offerings a few minutes after one another. It was a lot of fun to watch.
Don’t give up on winter quite yet. Ice fishing will actually be at its best within a few weeks. Remember to be patient, and most importantly, enjoy Utah’s winter wonderland with family and friends. For more detailed information about ice fishing and to see more photos taken on the ice, visit www.heraldextra.com.

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