Ice is on at Scofield
|The cold winters air has not only brought ice to Scofield Reservoir, it has also turned many other areas into visual feasts such as this scene below Joes Valley. |
The long-awaited ice-over has finally occurred at Scofield Reservoir, signaling some of the best fishing of the year.
Last week, the thermometer plunged to record lows, transforming a skiff of shoreline ice into a rock-solid frozen mass.
Early season ice fishing is traditionally some of the best of the year. Last weekend, anglers yanked out a number of 14-16 inch rainbows, mixed with some six to eight inch planters, as well as cutthroats and a few pan-sized tiger trout.
Fishing success is an elusive combination of where you fish, depth, technique and tackle. It changes from day to day and hour to hour. Skill and experience are as important here as in any other sport.
Conservation officer and veteran angler, Mike Milburn fishes in 10-20 feet of water at this time of year. He tends his ice rod faithfully, jigging it periodically. Mike uses a small silver attractor like a Kastmaster or Stinger from which he removes the hook. In its place, he ties on 10-12 inches of leader, and finishes the rig with a 1/32 or 1/16 oz. chartreuse jig head. The jig head is tipped by a piece of nightcrawler, meal worm, wax worm or small minnow. This set-up rarely fails Mike, who always has stories to share from his last angling adventure.
Aquatics Biologist Justin Hart volunteered to share some of his secrets as well. Justin likes to fish in 12-15 feet of water early in the season. When his tackle hits the bottom, Justin reels in a crank or two. Justin jigs the bait awhile and then raises it a foot or more at intervals, methodically sampling the entire water column. In terms of end tackle, Justin uses a 1/16 oz. spoon or Swedish Pimple tipped with a chunk of minnow about the size of a dime. Justin says he has also had good luck with a curlytail grub or ice fly and piece of nightcrawler or chunk of minnow meat.
As far as location, Justin offers a few recommendations.
The west side just out from the Madsen Bay boat launch offers good fishing. Fishing around the island is another good bet year-round. The southeast side of the reservoir is ever-popular for good reason.
Time of day is important too. For those that can stand frigid temperatures, early morning is a good time to dip a line.
On January 1 a new regulation change takes effect at Scofield. The trout limit jumps from four to eight fish, doubling angler opportunity.