Smaller lakes in refuge still good for ice fishing

Posted: Friday, March 02, 2001

It's ice fishing season. Drilling holes in the ice with augers, setting tip-ups, the adrenaline of pulling that fish onto the ice -- it's all part of the fun of ice fishing, right?

Unfortunately, the strange winter the Kenai Peninsula has been experiencing has restricted the amount of ice on some of the more popular area lakes and, in turn, has restricted ice fishing possibilities.

"Big lakes like Kenai and Skilak are not fishable like they normally are during a normal winter," said Rob Massengill of the Department of Fish and Game's Sport Fish Division. "Skilak is usually really popular, but the strange winter has made ice fishing on it impossible."

With the mild temperatures and lack of consistent ice, the outlook for ice fishing for the remainder of the 2000-01 season doesn't look too bright. For those determined to get their lines wet there are a few possibilities, and not all of them are too traditional for the month of March.

"I have heard of a few people who have been trying to get their boats into Skilak Lake," Massengill said. "I don't know what the conditions of the landings are to get boats into the water, but I am sure people have tried."

With the lack of ice and the abundance of open water, the possibility of fishing a favorite lake via boat is a good one. To some, fishing from a boat may not present the same challenges and need for certain tactics as ice fishing.

Die-hard ice fishers, have no fear -- there are still other ice-fishing possibilities.

"If I were to go ice fishing right now I would go to two areas," Jim Golden, the owner of the Sports Den in Soldotna said. "I would go to the Swanson River area to places like Campfire Lake, Willow Lake, Breeze Lake and Paddle Lake. Or I would go to Engineer Lake or Kelly-Peterson, part of the Skilak Lake system."

According to Golden, most of the lakes are good producers of rainbow trout, landlocked salmon and Dolly Varden. Golden also had a suggestion for the ice fishers who want to turn the fishing trip into a family event.

"Johnson Lake, which is south toward Kasilof, is producing some fish," he said. "It is stocked pretty heavily and is a good place to take the kids."

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