Saturday, January 8, 2011

Quest for Pulling a Pike Through the Ice at Yuba

Fishing Time: 8:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m.
Weather: partly cloudy, no wind, 20’s
Moon Phase: 17% Moon
Location: Yuba Reservoir
Bait: Anchovies on tip-ups, ice flies and wax worm on rods
Who Went: Rick, Me In another attempt to land a pike or musky through the ice, Rick and I headed to Yuba Reservoir. Yuba is a lake we have successfully fished for big pike during the summer months, but are eager to land one of these big fish through the ice. We arrived at the lake a little after sun rise and were excited to see that the lake had just recently froze, and even though we have had record snow fall this winter, the ice was covered with only a skiff of snow on top. This makes walking easy, and for us it meant that every corner of the lake was accessible by foot, with a little work. We looked at our map and pointed out a few areas that have produced pike during the summer and we decided to make the trek. According to the map we were looking at approximately 2.5 miles each way! The journey wasn’t bad, but I would be lying if I said I wasn’t sore by the end of the day. Once we arrived at the pin-pointed location, we set-up some tip-ups baited with anchovies and sent them down near the bottom in 20 feet of water. We used our fishing rods and tried to entice some perch out in the deeper areas (25’-30’) using ice flies tipped with wax worms. After close to an hour of fishing one of the flags on the tip-ups popped up and it was game on! We ran over there and Rick carefully took the line in his hand and set the hook! At first it seemed as if he had missed the fish, but then he told me there was definitely something there, but it didn’t feel very big. He was right and we were very disappointed as he hoisted out a 12 inch perch! That’s a big perch, but not what we were looking for. We re-rigged the tip-up and sent another anchovy down thinking the perch was a fluke. After another hour with no bites on the tip-ups or our rods, we went exploring a few other points with only a fish finder and ice auger in hand, hoping to find an area with good pike holding structure. Unfortunately with the lake being so low during the winter, it was almost as if Yuba was like a big bathtub and gradually just got deeper as you made your way from shore to the middle of the lake. The structure was all the same, making it hard to pin-point any areas that would seem more productive than the other. After drilling multiple holes and unsuccessfully finding any structure, we headed back around the point and into the bay we were fishing. As we made our way around the point we noticed that one of the tip-up flags had been tripped so off I ran. When I got there I grabbed the line but the fish was gone. Now we were kicking ourselves thinking we missed our chance at a pike through the ice! We re-rigged with an anchovy and sent it back down. Shortly after re-baiting, the same tip-up tripped and I ran over and set the hook on a fish, but again was disappointed when I realized it was another big fat perch, and no pike. Now we knew the first perch wasn’t a fluke and were discouraged thinking no pike were even around. The tip-up flags began popping up regularly now and every time it was another big perch. I landed one perch on my rod, but the rest were all on tip-ups rigged with a full 6-inch anchovy and being inhaled by 12 inch perch! We moved the tip-ups into shallow water (10-15 ft) and tried there for around an hour before packing up and making our way all the way back to the car. We stopped and fished at the dam for a few minutes hoping to find some perch in the deep 45 foot water, but all we found were a few non-biters. We dragged the sleds up the hill, packed the car, and left Yuba discouraged, sore and tired as we drove home depressed that we will never land a pike or musky through the ice. I don’t know anyone in Utah that can consistently land musky, pike, or walleye through the ice and the weirdest part is that it is very common on the lakes back east and up north. What makes Utah so different? I don’t know the answer yet, but I do know that my next ice fishing trip will be somewhere I can catch a fish!

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