Named after a Paiute Native American word, Panguitch, meaning ‘big fish’ is a small town in Southern Utah. Typically overshadowed by Bryce Canyon, Panguitch has some beautiful scenery and incredible ice fishing locations. Panguitch Lake and a variety of other nearby locations have been claimed the best ice fishing spots in Utah.
Panguitch Lake is 20 minutes south of Panguitch right along National Scenic Byway 143- Utah’s Patchwork Parkway. Not only will your fishing spot be serenely beautiful, but the ride to Panguitch Lake will be as well. Nestled up against the pines, Panguitch Lake is beautiful in the winter. On sunny days, the sun reflects off the glistening ice, which provides the perfect added warmth while you ice fish.
Panguitch lake is primarily known for its healthy and large trouts. Specifically rainbow, Bear Lake cutthroat and tiger trout. Most of them are quite large ranging from 18-22 inches. Panguitch Lake usually ices over by mid to end of December.
In order to know how to ice fish in Utah’s most prime waters, you’ll need some tips. Let’s go over some things to know so you can catch the famous rainbow trout from Panguitch Lake.
Tip 1: Gather your gear
Ice fishing requires some specific gear, especially when you’re cutting into ice. The necessities are as follows:
- Fishing License: Check Utah’s Division of Wildlife for pricing
- Ice Fishing Rod: Since there is no need to cast, an ice fishing rod is shorter. All you need to do is just drop the rod into the hole
- Fish Hooks
- Auger: To get through the ice you’ll need a corkscrew-like auger
- Scoop: A scoop will help you keep the hole free from ice and it can measure ice thickness
- Bucket: This is simply for carrying gear and sitting. You can bring a more comfortable chair if you'd like
- Sled: A sled is a lifesaver when it comes to carrying heavier gear, coolers and more across the ice
- Pliers: These will remove fish hooks
- Bait Bucket
- Fresh Bait: Since you like to eat fresh food, so do the fish. Make sure it’s fresh! Rainbow trout like PowerBait. Small jigs and ice flies tipped with mealworms, wax worms and nightcrawlers are also a good option
- Snow Boots or Ice Cleats: Since your feet will always be touching the ice, they are always the first to get cold. Make sure to wear warm socks and either warm boots or ice cleats
Tip 2: Type of bait
As mentioned earlier, fresh bait is very important in order to catch any fish. The recommended bait for ice fishing on Panguitch Lake is small jigs and ice flies tipped with mealworms, wax worms and nightcrawlers. PowerBait also works for rainbow trout. If you’re wanting to target bigger fish, use medium to large jigs and tip with cut bait.
Tip 3: Check for thick ice
Checking the ice is the very first step to take before beginning ice fishing. Use your auger to drill a hole and then measure the thickness with a tape measure. Carefully get familiar with the lake. As you walk you’ll most likely hear cracking noises. Usually this is harmless, but still be aware of your surroundings.
Tip 4: Move until you’ve found “the spot”
One of the biggest obstacles to ice fishing is actually finding the fish. Sometimes it can take drilling a few holes and moving around the lake until you find “the spot.” Finding the right depth and where the fish have gathered can be difficult. Using a fish finder can be helpful. Usually it’s a good idea to get close to other ice fishers, but obviously not too close. Once you start catching a few fish, then you’re set for success.
Tip 5: Have fun and enjoy the scenery
Once you start catching some fish, that’s when the fun begins. Ice fishing does require you to embrace the cold, but the excitement of catching a fish can easily overshadow that. With the beauty of Panguitch Lake and size of trout the ice fishman have caught, it’s no wonder that it's one of the top places to ice fish in Utah.
Now that we’ve learned the basics, who is ready to fish the hard waters of Panguitch Lake?