(Published in Utah Fishing & Outdoors, May, 1992)
Editor's note: The latest fishing rules (Jan, 2018) allow anglers to use multiple tip-ups. This is from the proclamation: A person may use up to six lines when fishing through the ice. If the angler is using more than one line, the angler’s name shall be attached to each line, pole or tip-up, and the angler shall check only their lines. Check for specific rules at the waters you fish.
If you lived in the northcentral U.S. (where kids are brought up fishing for walleye), you would be looking forward to ice fishing for, you guessed it, walleye. You would spend your evenings checking out your tip-ups and gathering minnows to be used for bait.
When the ice was safe you would find a likely spot on your favorite water, set up your ice house, drill a dozen or so holes, rig your tip-ups and then sit back and wait for a school of walleye to swim your direction. When the tip-ups started firing you would be in walleye heaven.
Here in Utah things are a bit different. Few of us are brought up fishing for walleye (Here rainbow trout is king). And Utah law allows only one rod at a time so tip-ups are useless. As a matter of fact, the proclamation states:
" Angling is fishing with one rod, pole, tip-up, handline or trollboard, held in the hand of, or attended by, the person angling, and having a single line attached with legal hooks, bait or lures. Attended means the angler must be within ten feet of equipment being used at all times."
Well, so much for setting up a bunch of tip-ups and waiting for a school of walleye to swim by. Without being able to fish a large area (with numerous tipups) it becomes very difficult to fish through the ice for walleye. Walleye are always on the move. They don't find a good spot and make it their home like trout or bass do. They are the wolves of the water, always on the move, looking for a school of smaller fish to prey on.
When the walleye move in, the fishing will be fast and furious, but only for a few minutes and then they will be gone. If you have six or eight lines in the water (illegal in Utah), the chances are that you will catch several fish before the school moves on. With only one line, your chances are greatly diminished.
With only one line in the water you will have to be very, very lucky to catch walleye on a regular basis through the ice.
Maybe it's time Utah considered allowing several tip-ups on waters like Starvation, Deer Creek, Willard Bay and Yuba that have excellent walleye populations (which are almost completely ignored during the winter). This would help get anglers excited about fishing for the walleye and would open up a whole new world of ice fishing.
If an angler could set up, say, a dozen tip-ups, ice fishing for walleye might just catch on.