Anglers need to approach ice fishing a little bit differently than when fishing during the summer. The big difference is how stationary your presentation is. When fishing from a boat, you are constantly moving, even when not under power as the wind and waves move you around. Even shore anglers cast to different spots in the water.
When you are ice fishing, you are dropping the line straight down through a 6-10 inch hole. And because that hole took a lot of energy to drill, anglers will often stay in the same spot, even if it is unproductive.
Unlike ice fishing 25 or 30 years ago, today’s anglers do have some tools that can help. Power augers are much more common and make drilling a hole very easy. If you don’t own one, go with a friend who does. Anglers also have GPS, portable fish finders and even underwater cameras.
On newer reservoirs like South Fork, maps from before they were built can help you find structure that may hold fish. Using your GPS and a map can put you close to where fish probably are.
Putting the transducer of your fish finder down the hole will help determine depth. By drilling several holes, hopefully with a power auger, and using the fish finder you can often not only find the structure you are looking for, but fish as well.
If no fish are caught in a half an hour or hour, it is time to move. By using some of the tools available to us today and expending a little extra energy and moving and drilling a few extra holes, you can turn a slow day on the ice to success.
The Annual Wild Horse Trout Derby is scheduled for Feb. 13-14 at the Wild Horse Resort. This annual event is very popular due to the fact that 100 percent of the registration fees are paid back in prize money. But it is also a fundraiser for the Wildhorse Estates to help them pay for road maintenance in their neighborhood. There are lots of great prizes they raffle off on top of the prizes given for 1st, 2nd and 3rd places. For information, call the Wild Horse Resort at 775-690-9830.
Wild Horse is covered with an average of about 14 inches of good hard ice covered with about a foot of snow on top. There are still some slush pockets under the snow, so those using ATVs should be careful to keep from getting stuck. Conditions now are much better for snow mobiles than ATVs. Expect fishing to be slow for larger fish and slow to fair for 10- to 14- inch fish. However, when anglers are catching large fish they are generally larger than 23 inches! The Wild Horse Trout Derby is on Presidents’ Day weekend, Feb. 13-14. For information, call the Wild Horse Resort at 775-690-9830.
SOUTH FORK RESERVOIR
South Fork ice was averaging 9-11 inches thick with crusty snow on top of the ice. More snow is expected this weekend so walking could be strenuous. Trout have been cruising the shallows with most being caught in less than 10 feet of water. Often the anglers aren’t even aware that they have had a bite as the fish are hitting the bait so softly. Jet Ski Beach has been the popular spot, but don’t be afraid to move around the lake. Fish are averaging 13 to 18 inches. The best success seems to be tipping a very thin spoon such as a Swedish pimple with a worm and jigging it slightly every few minutes. Blue and white, purple and white or pink and white seem to be the best colors for the spoons.
The road is four-wheel drive only and the ice here is approximately 6 inches thick with a crust of snow on top. With the precipitation forecast for this weekend, expect driving conditions to be poor. Fishing has been fair to good using the usual PowerBait, worms or corn. Snow is in the forecast for this area this weekend, so go prepared.
RUBY LAKE NWR
Harrison Pass is closed due to snow and anglers should plan on accessing the Refuge through Secret Pass. Secret Pass does experience drifting near the top, so take care here as well. As a general rule anglers can almost always find some open water here due to flows and the numerous springs even during very cold weather. The ditch is approximately 75 percent ice covered and access to much of the dish is by foot only as the roads that leave the main Ruby Valley Road and head into the refuge haven’t been plowed. Bring your snowshoes or skis. Egg patterns and small nymphs such as hares ears and pheasant tails are working in the pond behind the hatchery. However, prince nymphs and small streamers fished actively and stripped in quickly seem to be very effective. Be careful on the Ruby Valley Road as you can’t tell where the road ends and the borrow ditch begins. All it takes is to get one tire into the borrow ditch and you will be swallowed up.
JAKES CREEK/BOIES RESERVOIR
Approximately 14 inches of ice with a crust of snow on to and fishing has been good for trout. One angler pulled several fish including one 19- inch trout through the ice on Thursday. Anglers are using PowerBait or worms with success.
COLD CREEK RESERVOIR
Lots of snow and the lake is 100 percent ice covered. You can’t drive to the lake, but you can walk down from the main road. However, no word on the thickness, so drill a test hole close to shore before venturing upon it. No report on how the fishing is here.
Cave Lake is covered with 10-12 inches of ice with 6-10 inches of slush and snow on top at last report. Expect fishing to be good using the usual assortment of worms, mealworms or PowerBait.
This lake is covered approximately 10 inches of ice with 6 inches to a foot of snow at last report. More snow is expected this weekend. Expect good fishing using the usual assortment of jigs, worms and PowerBait. Local anglers like to use a black marabou jig tipped with a worm. Access to the lake is difficult due to snow depth. It is four-wheel drive only and anglers should be very careful driving into the lake.
The road to Angel Lake is closed.
Due to the snow at higher elevations, travel in the high country is not recommended at this time except for experienced backcountry travelers. Lakes are iced over.
Stream flows are below normal for this time of year, many of the streams that hold trout have ice on them and the shorelines are covered with ice and snow making fishing difficult. With low flows, expect the fish to be in the pools. Expect stream fishing to be slow.