GREEN RIVER — The subzero temperatures southwest Wyoming experienced in December, January and into February are producing excellent ice fishing opportunities on Flaming Gorge Reservoir.
The Wyoming Game and Fish Department reminds anglers that, when winter ice starts melting in other parts of the state, the Gorge is forecast to remain cold, likely providing good ice fishing opportunities through February and possibly into first part of March.
Now is a great time to get out those fishing poles and get ready to catch some fish.
“Anglers can really take advantage of good, late ice conditions while they last to pursue burbot and trout, especially the abundant Lake trout (LAT) less than 28 inches,” Green River Fisheries Supervisor Robb Keith says. “The fish limit is liberal on the small LAT ; 12 per day and 24 in possession less than 28 inches.”
Ice thickness at the time of this press release has Firehole and the upper Blacks Fork with 18 inches or more.
The ice thickness in the Confluence area is twelve inches or more, Buckboard area is eight to twelve inches, Brinegar’s Ferry area is eight to ten inches, and Anvil draw area is six to eight inches.
As always, anglers should use extreme caution on any ice. Be sure to go fishing with at least one other person, wear ice spikes in case you go through the water and be sure to tell people where you are going and when you plan to return.
A good rule of ice thickness is four inches of clear ice will support a person. The Game and Fish recommends against driving any vehicle onto the ice.
Lake Trout Pups
Whether you are fishing from a boat or through the ice, vertical jigging Lake trout pups is productive and a lot of fun. Use your bathymetric map and electronics to find fish on flats, humps and ridges adjacent to deep water in 40-70 feet of water.
Early and late in the day, pups are likely to be on top of flats, humps and ridges, and a good distance from deep water drop offs.
As the sun gets higher they will move closer to deep water and by mid-day you will likely find pups on or just off the edge of deep water drop offs.
Spoons, Tube Jigs, Grub Jigs
Vertically jigging spoons, tube jigs and curly tail grub jigs just off the bottom can produce a lot of fish, but watch your sonar for suspended fish. Lures weighing 1/4-1/2-ounce work well depending on depth – heavier lures work best in deeper water.
Vary up your presentation – try active jigging, subtle jigging and dead sticking. Strikes may come after sitting the lure on the bottom for a short while.
Tube jigs and grubs in luminescent and whites seem to always be productive, but earth tones that mimic crayfish will also work. Don’t shy away from brightly colored glow tubes – pink, yellow, orange, purple, etc.
Tipping your jig with sucker or chub meat adds enticement – typically a piece the size of your thumb nail will do the trick.
Anglers also have success with a variety of jigging spoons (Northland Buckshots, Buzzbombs, and Thomas Cyclones), Rapala Jigging Raps, and blade baits (Sebile Vibrato) work for less active fish. Fish attractant can help mask your scent on the lures too.
In mid to late February kokanee move into bigger bays as the snow melts from the lowland. Anglers can try for kokanee in 20-40 foot of water using spoons and small jigs.
Small jigging spoons (Swedish Pimples, Northland Buckshots, Buzzbombs and Kokanators) around a 1/4 ounce and in a vibrant color can work well. It is also best to tip the lure with Gulp or meal worm.
Small lake trout often times follow the kokanee into the bays and provide for a mixed creel, too. For more information, contact the Wyoming Game and Fish Department in Green River, Wyoming at 307-875-3223 or the Utah Division of Wildlife Resource in Dutch John, Utah at 435-885-3164.
Anglers can also find out more information about burbot and lake trout, including management strategies, tips on catching species, and recipes, visit the following Wyoming Game and Fish Department website: https://wgfd.wyo.gov/Regional-Offices/Green-River-Region/Flaming-Gorge-Management.
Anglers are advised to pick up a free copy of the 2019 Wyoming Fishing Regulations at any license vendor or G&F regional office or print them for the Wyoming Game and Fish Department website at wgfd.wyo.gov and click on the Fishing and Boating Tab.