The air outside isn’t the only thing warming up as spring gets into full swing.
Ice is pulling away from the shore at mid-elevation waters across the state. As the ice leaves, the sun hits the shallow water near the shore, and the water can warm quickly. As the water warms, trout and other coldwater fish move into the shallow water in search of food. These fish are hungry — it’s been awhile since they’ve had a decent meal — and they’re ready to bite.
“At many of the state’s waters, spring is the best time to fish from the shore,” said Roger Wilson, Aquatic Section chief for the Utah Division of Wildlife Resources. “It’s a great time to take your kids fishing. They can catch a bunch of fish using simple techniques and simple fishing equipment.”
If the sky stays clear and the wind stays calm, fishing can be fast and furious for one to two weeks. Then, as water across the lake or reservoir warms, trout start to move away from the shore. However, by starting at lower elevation waters and moving to higher lakes later in the season, anglers can extend their ice-off fishing experience by several weeks.
“Depending on where it’s located, a body of water will typically experience ice off anywhere from mid-March to mid-May,” Wilson said.
“Also,” Wilson says, “when you visit a water, pay attention to what the anglers around you are doing. If they’re catching fish with a certain lure or bait, and you have that same lure or bait in your tackle box, put it on your line and use it.”
During ice off, he said trout often cruise the shoreline in schools, so it’s important to fish in the right spots, or wait until a school arrives at a given spot.
“You have to be patient in the spring,” he said. “You can sit for awhile with no action, and then all of the sudden it’s ‘pop, pop, pop’.”
PowerBait and nightcrawlers are excellent baits to use during ice off. Wilson recommends placing a large sinker on the line, a foot or two above your hook, and then casting the bait and letting it sink to the bottom. Another strategy is to float the bait one or two feet off the bottom.
For those using lures or flies, try one that imitates a leech. Dark-colored tube jigs and grubs are excellent lures to try. For fly anglers, dark wooly buggers are the ticket.
Wilson said the open water near the edge of the ice is a great spot to cast, or to start retrieving a lure. If the ice isn’t too far away, simply cast the bait or lure onto the ice, and then retrieve it until it falls into the water.