The surface ice was slippery, with only a skiff of snow on top to allow for any traction. I'm glad I'm wearing my ice spikes; I might bust through the early season ice if I fell.
We trudged out toward the island at Scofield Reservoir, hoping to get into some trout on this cold December morning. After cutting a few holes and checking depths with the fish finder, we settled in to our favorite fishing techniques to attract trout our way. This only took a few minutes and before long we had iced our first couple of fish, tiger trout, and decided to stick it out in this area for at least a bit longer.
My first fish bit solidly on a Rat Finkee jig tipped with a wax worm. Fortunately I still had the rod in my hand and was able to get a good hook set. That first fish coming up through the ice each season is a beautiful thing to behold.
I adjust slowly to the use of a wire bobber after a long summer. I see the bobber move slightly, and I feel like I don't know what to do next. I'm pretty slow on the trigger initially. But these fish were rather aggressive, cutthroats and rainbows included, and made for easier reactions to suddenly diving wire indicators.
The ice isn't thick today, but there's enough to safely hold anglers at the moment. And as cold as it is, I think the ice will continue to form rather quickly. The same would probably be the case for Huntington Reservoir as well.
I enjoy getting my winter gear together, but always forget something that first trip. Generally it's not any of my cold weather clothing; I know the penalty for that. But I have run off without bait for tipping jigs, propane for heaters, and even fish finders before.
That first trip is usually a circus, but turns out to be a blast anyway. I have a sled full of "stuff", all of which I need, but only a portion of which I use. Go figure. I think we're all that way. But I did forget the batteries for my heated socks, even though I didn't really need them with all the moving around we were doing.
We set up to jump from hole to hole, continually chasing fish around. I like this method: Stake out an area and cover it steadily, allowing a hole to cool off after a catch or two. By the time we work our way back around to an old hole, it often has a fish marked on the finder right away.
After our initial holes got quiet, we went searching for some slightly deeper water in the lake's deeper channel, and found some structure at about 20 feet that was holding fish. Again we had a busy hour or so, catching and releasing trout at a rather speedy pace. We had cameras clicking with every good fish, and our first trip was well on its way to being a great day.
I feel for those guys who store away their gear once the hunting season rolls around. Ice fishing sounds so cold and miserable, but is likely the fastest growing aspect of fishing in Utah, not to mention other northern states that boast of good ice and long seasons.
I made an effort to sit and eat a bit of lunch while still dangling a jig in the water, but the fish would have nothing to do with me taking a break. By the time I got to that last bite of ham sandwich, it was like a popsicle. This flurry of activity surrendered a twenty-inch cutt among others, and made for some real busy shuffling of food and poles at times.
We had some company on the ice this day, but not much. Fishing on a weekday can be a real pleasant experience when it comes to looking for more areas to fish. Those initial days on the ice can often account for some of the fastest fishing of the season, so I try to take advantage of it as best I can.
So if you haven't used your spare time to get out the short-sticks and prepare for a winter outing, now would be the opportunity. There are anglers ahead of you, and the fishing should be good everywhere as the lakes cap over for the winter.
Brad Kerr is an avid angler who can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.