Cold weather at the higher lakes and reservoirs in Idaho is starting to get anglers thinking about ice fishing.
Ice fishing can add months of enjoyable fishing. Most lakes and reservoirs are open year round, and if the weather is cold enough, ice on these waters can be safe and provide good fishing for yellow perch and trout. Anglers should wear warm clothing and be prepared for winter weather and driving conditions.
Check the ice thickness and condition before venturing over deep water. It takes at least three to four inches of clear, solid ice to support a person’s weight; but it takes 8 to 10 inches to support a snow machine or an ATV.
In addition to fishing gear, ice anglers will need some special gear. Hand-held ice augers are inexpensive and easy to use if the blade is sharp. Also a slotted ladle will help keep the fishing hole free of ice.
Ice fishing rules are slightly different than general fishing for public safety and general crowding. Fishing is allowed only through a hole up to 10 inches in diameter. This reduces the risk of someone falling through holes. There is one exception on Bear Lake in Southeast Idaho where anglers can dip net cisco through any size hole.
There are no restrictions on the number of holes, but an angler can fish with up to five poles or lines at a time, and up to five hooks per line. A two-pole validation is not needed and does not allow more than five lines while ice fishing. All lines must be attended by the angler.
Gaff hooks may be used only to land fish through a hole cut or broken in the ice in waters that have no length restrictions or harvest closures for that species.
Anglers who use any enclosure or shelter for ice fishing and plan to leave it unattended overnight on the ice, must have the owner’s name, telephone number, and current address legibly marked on two opposing sides. Shelters must be removed from the ice before the spring thaw.