Die-hard anglers found solid ice and good fishing at Huntington Reservoir over the Thanksgiving holiday, kicking off a new ice fishing season.
Scofield Reservoir is usually our first major fishery to freeze; the ice there will probably be thick enough to safely support ice fishermen in early December. Birch Creek and Woodruff reservoirs, over near Evanston, and Currant Creek Reservoir will probably also have safe ice about that same time.
It's hard to predict the timing for ice-up and it is always essential for fishermen to use caution when ice fishing. Stormy weather can slows down the freeze. If we get several clear, cold nights, most of our waters could be frozen solid within a few weeks. That said, this year I expect popular local waters like Lost Creek and East Canyon reservoirs to be ready for ice fishing by mid December.
Anglers look forward to ice fishing on Strawberry Reservoir, which will probably be safe to fish by Christmas. Causey, an excellent small, deep reservoir above Ogden, will probably have safe ice about that same time. Rockport has offered great ice fishing in recent years and it should be safe by Christmas. Panguitch Lake is one of our better waters in southern Utah and it should also be safe by Christmas.
Fish Lake should be solid and offer very good fishing by New Years Day. Bear Lake sometimes freezes and sometimes doesn't. My crystal ball says it will have ice by mid-January, in time for the cisco run. Some of the bays at Flaming Gorge Reservoir should also support ice fishing by mid-January.
Ice fishing is often very good during the first couple weeks after a water freezes. For that reason some people rush to be the first to get on the ice, even to the point of venturing onto thin, dangerous ice. That is crazy. There is plenty of good fishing available and no need to endanger yourself or others. In general, four inches of clear, solid ice is needed to safely support a group of ice fishermen. Use caution when fishing on new ice. Drill a test hole over shallow water near shore. Only move out away from shore when you are positive the ice is safe.
Huntington Reservoir, located along the Skyline Drive above Fairview, is popular because it freezes early, and because tiger trout are fun to catch through the ice. Tigers are a cross a between a brown trout and brook trout. They are an aggressive fish and readily bite jigs tipped with bait. They are beautiful, as you can see from the photo that accompanies this article. Most of the tiger trout caught in Utah are small but occasionally a tiger over 20 inches long is pulled through the ice at one of our reservoirs.