Ice fishing popular sport in Utah


    By Olivia Lowry

    As the mercury plummets, one would expect people to grab a blanket and some hot chocolate and scramble for a spot close to the fireplace. But that is not the case for many people in Utah this winter.

    People are still grabbing the hot chocolate, but the blanket is being replaced by warm winter clothes and portable kerosene heaters. Instead of aiming for the couch, they scramble onto the frozen Deer Creek and other reservoirs to participate in a popular sport – ice fishing.

    “It”s really easy to get started,” said Joe Hackwell, a bright-eyed fisherman from West Valley City. “You just grab an auger and dig yourself a hole.” Indeed, the powerful blades of his motorized ice auger bore easily through the 8-inch-thick ice in a matter of seconds.

    Don”t try to use a hand-powered auger, Hackwell explained, or it will take all day just to get a hole.

    The rest is pretty basic; a hook is baited with worms, Powerbait, salmon eggs, marshmallows, cheese – whatever is available, and tossed down the hole.

    And then comes the waiting.

    Some days the fish bite so fast that it is hard to keep your hook baited, said Hackwell. But there are also some days that they don”t bite at all.

    Yet it doesn”t seem to matter if the fish are biting or not, the people will still come out and brave the cold, armed with snacks, soft drinks and each other to help pass the time.

    “It”s a good way to get out of the city,” said Cody Hackwell, 25, from Taylorsville. “(Ice fishing) gives me a chance to be together with my family and friends.”

    There is still the actual fishing aspect. A person must buy a license before going ice fishing. On a good day the limit is quite easy to catch.

    Although the majority of the fish caught are perch, an occasional trout can be found on the end of the line, said Karen Rigby, of West Valley City. Regardless of the type or even size, each fish caught must be kept. At this time of the year, a fish will die if it is pulled up to the surface and then thrown back.

    People of all sizes and ages come to ice fish. Brooke Rigby, a 5-year-old from West Valley City, proudly displaying her catch of fish said, “I come ice fishing because I like to catch and eat fish.”

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