Ryan Mosley, Flaming Gorge Project leader for the Utah Division of Wildlife Resources, sent in this report Tuesday.
Ice remains on most of the reservoir north of the Pipeline. With the high winds experienced last week, some spots are opening up in the main body of the reservoir. This past weekend there was a large expanse of open water north of Anvil Draw to Middle Marsh Creek. I also observed some wide pressure ridges with open water in the main lake areas. Be safe around these areas and recognize that winds can have a dramatic effect on the consistency and duration of ice.
Where we fished the ice was thick (~12-inches of clear) and the fishing was still really good. Even with the recent success reports for lake trout pups in the main channel near Buckboard we decided to fish for shallow rainbows further south. Rainbow fishing was very good in 15-25 ft of water and also provided the occasional lake trout. We selected shallow points towards the backs of bays and augered a lot of holes until we found fish. Many of the fish came through suspended, making it advantageous to have a fish finder so the presentation can be placed at the depth of the fish.
We caught rainbows up to 20-inches and about 2 lbs. The quality of the rainbows caught this year is impressive and even the smaller size class (14-inches) are fun to catch and exhibit thick red fillets. I guess Brett's classification of 2012 as the "Year of the Rainbow" continues! Fish hit a variety of lures, but I had much of my success using small 1/4 oz jigging spoons, including Swedish Pimples (whites and pinks) and Kastmasters (rainbow), and also 1/16 oz Powerbait Atomic Teasers (white w/ orange trout worm). Tip the lures with Gulp maggots, meal worms, or wax worms. Upon cleaning the fish, many of the rainbows were foraging on chironomids but some were also utilizing zooplankton. Chironomids tend to be more abundant on shallow sand/mud habitat, and this time of year zooplankton can be more abundant in the backs of bays or along southern exposed rocky shoreline where water is slightly warmer.