Deer Creek Ice-Off


Aug 9, 2007
I've been watching the local waters for reports of hot fishing. I haven't done much boat fishing in the past, but I'd heard that ice-off is an awesome time to wet a line. I'd heard reports that Deer Creek was clear of ice and the fishing was good, so @slc_dan and I headed up on Saturday to check it out.


After getting skunked at Powell last month, it was awesome to get into the fish almost immediately. We started out by just trolling as slow as we could with a jake's lure on each rod. Dan caught the first of the boat and then it just kept going.

All were nice, plump rainbow trout from 12-17".
deer-creek-3.jpg deer-creek-4.jpg deer-creek-5.jpg deer-creek-6.jpg

We had a couple times where we both got fish on at the same time.
deer-creek-7.jpg deer-creek-8.jpg

The perils of sitting too far away from the back of the boat when a fish strikes.

The wind kicked up hard in the afternoon. It was fun to see how the boat handled the rough water. We decided to motor right into the wind and head up to the dam. We turned around and let the wind propel us for a bit. It was strong enough to keep the boat riding waves at about 2-3 mph with the engine off.

But then we snuck into a more sheltered cove to cook up a little lunch. I just rigged this grill up earlier this week. It's not designed to be a boat grill, but so far it's working out awesome. It's particularly good because you can swap out the grill plates for stove burners or griddles. The other nice thing is that the legs for the grill can be stowed on the boat and reattached with one bolt and wing nut so it can be moved to the beach if desired. I'm really excited about it.

Throughout the day we landed 21 and lost a handful of others. Great day out on the water.

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Very nice haul for its second voyage!
but I'd heard that ice-off is an awesome time to wet a line.

21 is a great day and any day on the water (that doesn't end up on the bottom) is a good day!

Hitting the Ice off right at the breakup is something I keep trying for. I recommend "Fly Fishing the Mountain Lakes" by the late, great Gary LaFontaine. Great book and Chapter 2 covers this. One particular point in this chapter describes the "true" ice-off as a day when the semi-thawed ice gets fragile enough and blown by the wind at just the right time so that it breaks up nearly all at once. This drops the entire winter's worth of dead bugs and other tasty bits into the lake all at once and for the rest of the day the fish go into a feeding frenzy. Only lasts a day and guarantees the best day ever. He gives other great info on pre-breakup conditions.

The book is worthwhile and after reading I was thinking "ah, that's why" on several fishing experiences I have experienced when backpacking.
I still can' believe you caught those fish with dice! I thought it took cunning and guile and a not-insignificant knowledge of the natural world (natural food and insects dependent on time of day etc.) to catch fish reliably.

Dice. :facepalm:
Hahaha! That cracks me up, Art! I have to set you straight though. 98% of fisherman have no idea what they are doing. They just read whatever someone else wrote on the interwebs or just keep trying what worked before, or what they guy at the fish store said to use. :) In this case, the 'dice' are a fabulous trout lure in the backcountry waters, so we tried it here. Go Dan. When I'm heavy into fly fishing, I've gotten reasonably good at identifying hatches and learning what might be good food above the water. I never got really good at it, but certainly better than figuring out what is going on UNDER the water! I'm just happy we didn't have to resort to bait. :rolleyes:
I fully expect the next boating TR to have pics of beautiful fish on the line with those grilled hot dogs ahead of them on the line.... :cool:

BCP is burying all my stereotypical hero-types. First survivalManiac Les or whatever his name used to be and now Frank the fantatstic fly fisherman.

P.S. I am just joshin' ya of course (except the quip about Les).
TIL that lure is called dice, makes sense :)

I prefer @Bob's name for it, the money clip. It doesn't make much sense that Jake's Spin a lure (the actual name for the lure) works so well, until you see it under the water. It shifts and bends in a convincing fashion.

I've caught well over 100 fish on that one lure. I know it's that one, because I clamped off the barbs on it. I took a few different lures, and flies with me to the Winds, and Uinta's last year, but almost only ever used the Jake's. It casts extremely well too, making it perfect for mountain lakes, getting to the deeper part.

I do love @langutah's name for it though! Dice!
Went back up to Deer Creek today. It was my wife's first time out on the new boat, so of course the 'pretty good' forecast turned into a hurricane as we were launching. We found some sheltered bays and trolled around for a while though. Audra caught into a super fat rainbow right off the bat and then quite a few more that weren't quite as plump. The sun came out a little and warmed us up before we decided to call it a day. It was definitely fun to see how the boat handled in 3-4' waves. I'm glad I just placed an order for a third pontoon to put on it. :)

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