Sunday, December 11, 2011

Panguitch Lake, Dec. 9, 2011

On Monday I received word that Panguitch Lake was ice capped, and people were out on it.  However, the report went on to tell of sketchy conditions, with wicked looking pressure ridges, and I guess that the ice was only about 6 inches thick.  Well, on Wednesday my good friend Brian Burbridge of Enoch gave me a call asking what I thought about fishing there this weekend.  With a week of bitter cold temperatures, we guessed that the ice had to be at least 6 inches thick by now, especially in the bays.  So we made our plans to give it an attempt that Friday.

First fish of the day

So I sent out a Facebook message, and a mass text, but due to the short notice I only received replies from Brian, another friend (and co-worker) Devin McLemore, and my grandpa, Marvin Porter that they would give it a go.  We may have been hoping for 6 inches of ice, but Marvin, Devin and I may be on thin ice as it is already in the season.  Last year we were fishing almost every weekend, and I think the girls are seeing the signs of us gone a lot for another winter.  Well, I'll keep you posted as to how that battle fares for us this winter!

Brain brings a nice one through the ice

Marvin and I were on the road by about 6 AM, arriving at the lake around 8 AM.  At first sight things looked a little sketchy!  Huge, nasty looking pressure ridges, very little sign of anyone on the ice before us, and the ice itself did not appear to be that thick.  I made my way out, fired up the auger, and punched a couple of holes through the ice.  To my surprise each hole was showing me about 6 inches of solid ice!  So we grabbed the rest of our gear and ventured back out, geared up, and began what we hoped would be a great day of fishing. 

 Shortly after we began we were joined by Devin and Brian.  At this point we had holes drilled in depths from 8' of water to about 12', and we were having little success.  The ice began to pop, and at one point we had a very crazy shift in the ice, something I have never experienced.  This may have been caused by a "ripple" sent by heavy equipment working at the dam, but I'm not sure.  Whatever it was it was enough to drive the only other fisherman in the area off of the ice in a hurry! 

Devin and Brian

 Well, the fish began biting, but frustration was setting in on all of us.  Panguitch Lake is notorious for a soft bite when it comes to ice fishing, and this year was no different.  All of us were grumbling and cussing as we missed fish after fish, while occasionally bringing a fat rainbow or cutthroat in here and there.  The crazy thing about the day was that you could jerk to set the hook, miss the fish, let your jig back down, and the fish would hit it again!  I had a fish that I missed my set on 4 times and he remained to give me a successful hook up on the 5th try!  By that time I had reeled a little each time and was now only about a foot under the ice.  I didn't even have to reel to bring him up out!

Just when things were looking a little disappointing, that good old Panguitch Lake 11 AM fish-frenzy began!  Over the next 3 hours I can't tell you how many fish we caught.  I know I kept track of my fish until fish number 8, after which I gave up on keeping track.  This frenzy was proving successful for all 4 of us, and at various depths across the ice.  If it was a competition of who would catch the most no bragging rights would be there as all of us stopped counting during this hot streak.  At one point fish were hitting my jig on the way back down the hole just after releasing the prior fish!  This was some of the best ice fishing I have experienced yet! 

At about 1 PM Devin announced that it was time for him to go, so he could get back to study for finals.  Well, you know how it goes...just one more fish, then I'll go!  Well, about 6 more "one more fish" later, Devin finally made his way to the truck, taking a couple of fat rainbows home with him.  Just minutes later, I was able to video Marvin pull out a nice cut we guessed to be about 3 pounds, and 20 inches long.  We were sure he had the catch of the day, as most of our fish had been in the 2 pound range.  I was able to secure my spot with the only small catch of the day shortly after with a 10 inch rainbow.  I thought that would be my story for the day when just minutes later I hooked up a beautiful 23 inch, 4 pound 12 ounce cutthroat.  Yeah, this is where Marvin started to threaten shoving me down a hole and leaving me.  A couple of fish later I landed our only tiger trout of the day, a nice 20" beauty. 

Light colored jigs seemed to be the magic ticket this day, tipped with meal worm.  Most of our fish hit when the jig was suspended about 2 feet off of the bottom.  Active jigging didn't do a whole lot this day, although they would become interested after popping it to let them know it was there.

About 2 PM Brian left us, and the fishing really died, so we made our way to the truck, downed some chili, and made our way home.  I want to thank those that joined me on this memorable fishing trip and look forward to many more this season.

4 pound 12 ounce cut

20" Tiger Trout

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