Bear Lake Ice Update

Bear Lake

by Utah Division of Wildlife

What anglers can expect at Bear Lake this winter will depend on whether the lake freezes over or not. The lake typically freezes over near the end of January. Bear Lake has a lot of springs and vents, so pay close attention to ice thickness. An ice safety guide is available here. If Bear Lake does not freeze over, fishing from boats will continue through the winter. The Bear Lake State Park marina is the only place on the lake where you can launch a boat in the winter. More information about Bear Lake State Park is available here.

Whether you’re fishing through the ice or in open water, you can expect excellent fishing for cutthroat trout. Jigging with ½- to ¾-ounce tube jigs (tipped with cisco or sucker meat) is the most popular method at Bear Lake in the winter. Cutthroat trout can be found in anywhere from 30 to 100+ feet of water, but most anglers target 50 to 80 feet. If the lake is open water, you can try trolling minnow-type lures or flatfish, with downriggers, close to the bottom. Good locations for winter fishing are off the rockpile in front of Ideal Beach Resort, 2nd Point and Cisco Beach. The four artificial rockpiles just north of the Utah State Park marina are also a good spot to try. Bonneville whitefish fishing is typically good from the end of January through the end of February. When fishing for whitefish, use a small ⅛- to ⅜-ounce vertical jigging spoon (such as a Kastmaster or a Swedish Pimple) and tip it with a piece of worm or mealworm. Focus on areas with rocky bottoms or near weed beds on the bottom (south of Gus Rich Point, between 1st and 2nd points, is a good spot to try). Dipnetting for spawning Bonneville cisco at the end of January is weather dependent. If the lake is frozen, you can dipnet through the ice. If the lake is open water, you can wear waders and try dipnetting from shore at Cisco Beach. However, since they can see you, the cisco are very wary during open water years. Try to keep a low profile and stay close to shore. Jigging (snagging) for Bonneville cisco is also popular if the lake is not frozen. Jigging action should begin in mid-January and run through the first part of February. Use a larger jigging spoon (⅜- to 1-ounce) and jig it aggressively — right on the rocky bottom — in 40 to 60 feet of water or off weed beds in 20 to 35 feet of water.

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