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Ice Anglers - Happily Walking on Water

This winter's harsh weather has got avid ice anglers walking on water. In fact, most of the bundled up anglers are happily trying to keep the secret to themselves. Well, the secret is out - ice fishing in the Clearwater Region is hot. Besides always hungry bluegill, sunfish and crappie, the Idaho Department of Fish and Game (IDFG) stocked several thousand catchable size trout into local lakes and reservoirs late last fall. These waters include Mann Lake, Waha Lake, Winchester Lake, Spring Valley Reservoir, Moose Creek Reservoir and Elk Creek Reservoir. Good fishing is being reported at most of these waters, with catch rates averaging 2 or 3 fish per hours. Catch rates for experienced ice anglers are much better. Ice fishing has its advantages many anglers don't find the rest of the year. "For one, if anglers are willing to walk, they can get to any place anyone else can," said Tim Cochanauer, IDFG fish manager in Lewiston. "Ice fishing doesn't require a boat or a large investment in tackle. The only piece of specialized equipment an ice angler needs is an ice auger," he said. Most of the tackle - pole, ice flies, bait and ladle - can be carried in a five-gallon bucket, which doubles as a handy seat for anglers. It is recommended that anglers dress warmly and in layers, which allows them to remove or add layers of clothes as the temperatures fluctuate. A hat, good gloves and boots are especially important, as the ears, hands and feet are the first parts of the body to become cold. Safety is a concern and anglers are warned to proceed with caution anytime they venture out across the frozen surface. To safely support a group of anglers, ice needs to be 4 inches thick or more. IDFG encourages anglers to use common sense and drill a few test holes near shore to check the ice's thickness. Ice fishing regulations are mostly the same as for the rest of the year, except ice anglers are allowed up to five poles or lines. For safety reasons, angler must fish through holes no larger that 10 inches in diameter. IDFG encourages all anglers to check the fishing regulations for any special regulations pertaining to the water they intend to fish.