It’s time to bust out the waterproof boots, insulated gloves and cold weather gear as temperatures drop and ice fishing heats up on the Kenai Peninsula for anglers willing to brave the elements.
Butch Nylander, an employee at the Sportsman’s Warehouse in Soldotna spent part of Wednesday updating the store’s fishing report bulletin to include information about the best ice fishing spots in the area.
“It’s really hard info to come by,” Nylander said. “I pretty much have to tackle everyone who comes through there and find out what they’ve been doing.”
Ben Griess, of Soldotna, said he has been out four or five times this season and has had a mix of luck.
“Early daybreak seems to produce better than other times of day,” he said.
Griess and Nylander said the smaller lakes in the area were in better shape for an ice-fishing adventure than the larger ones.
Most of the smaller lakes in the area have more than 10 inches of ice on them, Nylander said.
Anglers have reported good ice fishing on Sport Lake, mile 94.3 on the Sterling Highway, and Scout Lake, mile 84.9 on the Sterling Highway.
“It has iced over but the water hasn’t really gotten cold yet so (the fish) are still fairly active,” Nylander said.
Scout Lake is stocked with rainbow trout, Arctic grayling and silver salmon, while Sport Lake is stocked with rainbow trout and silver salmon.
Salmon are active all winter, according to ADFG data, and can be caught through the ice at about 2 to 15 feet with lures and single eggs or shrimp as bait.
“Clam works really good too,” Nylander said. “They’re tough, they stay on the hook and fish like them.”
Small char and rainbow trout can also be taken with bait at 15 to 40 feet and 2 to 15 feet respectively.
In the absence of bait, Griess said active jigging seemed to be more productive than just hanging bait.
Nylander said he did not recommend ice fishing on larger lakes like Skilak, Hidden or Kenai Lake as there is still visible open water and thin ice on the edges.
On most lakes, ice fishers are allowed to have two lines in the water, with one lure on each line, however lakes that have known infestations of Northern Pike have regulations allowing up to five lines in the water at a time.
All gear must be closely attended, according to ADFG.
Nylander encouraged anglers to check the rules and possible changes in regulation but said the season was ready to go.
“It’s fresh fish and unmatched scenery,” he said.
Reach Rashah McChesney at email@example.com.
Tight Lines runs on the third Thursday of the month from October through April, and will return as a weekly feature in May.
Ice fishing information can be found at the following
Stocked Lakes: http://www.adfg.alaska.gov/static/fishing/PDFs/sport/byarea/southcentral/northkenai3.pdf
USFWS Lake Maps http://www.fws.gov/refuge/Kenai/map.html
ADFG Stocked Lakes: http://www.adfg.alaska.gov/index.cfm?adfg=fishingSport.region&StockingAreaID=22
Don’t forget: The 2013
fishing licenses expire Dec. 31