Wyoming Wildlife magazine - 21

Change depth
Most ice anglers assume fish are piled on the bottom of the lake. It's not a bad assumption - plenty
of people catch fish right off the bottom - but not
everyone.
" A lot of times the fish are coming through suspended, " Amadio said.
That means instead of cruising the bottom, they're
somewhere in between. And those fish also are often
the most active.
The best way to know where the fish are is to use
a fish finder, but you can still troubleshoot without
expensive gear.
Start near the bottom. If you're not catching
anything, begin varying your depth. Try a few feet
higher, then higher.

On Flaming Gorge Reservoir, a water that allows more than two lines, tip-ups can help anglers effectively fish multiple rods.
Check regulations for the number of lines allowed before heading out on an ice fishing trip. (Photo by Chris Martin/WGFD)

Swap lures, bait and methods
Sure, that jig in your tackle box worked that one
time. Unless it's working for you now, change to
something different, Amadio said.
Fish are pickier in the winter, and on popular lakes
and reservoirs they see plenty of lines and lures. Plan
to change colors, shapes and even bait.
Also change your fishing methods.
Sometimes fish may prefer a slow drop or even
" dead-sticking, " when bait or a lure simply sit still.
Other times fish want an aggressive jig with speed.
Try something, then switch if you're not catching fish.

Scatter tip-ups
On waters that allow more than two lines, use
tip-ups to locate where fish are feeding. A list of
waters where this is allowed can be found in the
current fishing regulations.
Start at a shallow depth then run them out at 5-to
10-foot intervals into deeper water. Once you notice
bites in one location, pull the rest of your tip-ups
and place them along the same contour lines as the
tip-up with bites, Amadio said.
Think of tip-ups as a more labor-intensive fish
finder. But once you find them, tip-ups can multiply
your catch.

Stay safe ice fishing
No tips for ice fishing matter more than how to stay safe.
Unlike other places in the country with long, relatively
windless winters, Wyoming rarely has extended periods
of stable ice. Ice conditions on Wyoming waters can go from
safe to hazardous with a single windstorm, and anglers
should always check conditions. Anglers go through the
ice every year across Wyoming, and occasionally don't
make it out alive. These tips from the Wyoming Game and
Fish Department and other state officials will help keep you
safe while ice fishing.
*	 Check the thickness of ice before venturing onto it, and
continue checking it every 100-150 feet. Four inches of
clear ice or double that amount for cloudy ice is usually
safe for fishing. Clear ice is stronger than cloudy or white
ice, which has frozen, thawed and refrozen and is not
always stable.
*	 Stay off of rivers. Currents underneath can create
unknown hazards.

*	 Be cautious of warm winds, which can change ice conditions within a few hours.
*	 Take a buddy. Having a friend along means someone
can throw you a rope if you fall in.
*	 Always tell someone where you're going, even if you're
with a friend.
*	 Wear a life jacket and carry a flotation device on a rope.
*	 Carry some kind of ice pick to help you grab the ice should
you fall through. To make ice picks, hammer nails in the
end of pieces of an old broom handle. Ice picks jammed
into the surface give you something to hold onto.
*	 Keep dry clothing and hot liquids on hand to help avoid
hypothermia from falling in the icy water.
*	 Don't drive vehicles or ATVs onto the ice.
*	 Don't go ice fishing at night.
*	 Avoid open water.
*	 Avoid pressure ridges, which are large cracks or heaves
caused when ice expands and contracts. These areas are
often weak and thin.

		

Wearing a life jacket while ice fishing is one of several safety
measures you should take. (Adobe Stock Photo)

Wyoming Wildlife | 21



Wyoming Wildlife magazine

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