The outdoor opportunities don’t stop around Riverton when it gets cold. The ice fishing season runs from late November to March, and you’ll find both locals and visitors all over Wyoming’s lakes and reservoirs. It’s a sport that can be enjoyed solo, with friends, or during friendly competitions like the Midvale Ice Fishing Derby or the Boysen Reservoir Derby. Both happen annually in January.
Patrick Edwards, co-host of the Riverton-based RadCast Outdoors Podcast, is an avid angler and local outdoorsman.
“A lot of people enjoy ice fishing. You can set everything up and just relax,” Edwards said. “But you should always think about ice safety first. Not all lakes are conducive to freezing and the ice needs to be at least five inches thick.”
The Right Gear
Having the right equipment is essential for a successful ice fishing trip. You’ll need an auger to get through the ice, a fishing rod, the appropriate tackle (think lures, bait, jigging spoons, extra line, bobbers, etc), buckets, safety equipment, some food, and a sled to carry everything just to get started. You’ll also need a valid fishing license.
The right gear includes your clothing. It will be cold, so layer up and bring some hand warmers. “Good boots are often underrated,” Edwards said. “Ice fishing won’t be fun if your feet are freezing. Get yourself some nice insulated boots.”
Where to Fish
What lake you choose depends on why you’re fishing. Here are the top destinations from the Riverton area.
- Boysen Reservoir – It has the most diverse body of fish species (walleye, crappie, burbot, trout, yellow perch, and more). It’s tied for first with the most state records, so if you’re looking to snag something big, Boysen is the place to go. It also freezes well and can have up to two-feet thick ice.
- Ocean Lake – Ocean Lake is a smaller version of Boysen. Same great variety of fish, but they’ll be slightly smaller. This lake is a favorite for anyone looking for brown or rainbow trout.
- Morton Lake/Pilot Butte – This lake is a great spot to find trout and burbot. It also has a nice campground for anyone looking to plan a longer fishing trip.
- Bass Lake – Bass Lake is a good place to take kids. There is more fishing action to keep them involved, but the fish are smaller. You’ll find bass, perch, and bluegill.
Use Local Knowledge
It’s important to have an idea of what you want your ice fishing experience to be. What type of fish are you hoping to catch? That will determine what lures and bait you need. Are you looking to nab something huge? That will help you pick your lake. The time of year might shift where the fish are biting. Your experience level will guide your gear needs.
It’s a lot to think about, so Edwards recommends reaching out to a local bait shop.
“They’ll know everything from where the fish have been biting to how the weather impacts your fishing,” he said. “They’ll help guide you through what you need to know. They are the best resource.”
Rocky Mountain Discount Sports and Sportsmans Warehouse both have several locations across Wyoming, including in Riverton. B&K Shoreline Shop in Shoshoni is close to the Boysen Reservoir, and Wind River Outdoor Company in Lander has an excellent gear supply.
“I go ice fishing to take my kids and see them catch fish,” Edwards said. “On a nice day we get to enjoy the sunshine and a relaxing activity. Sometimes, it’s about more than fishing.”
Photo Credit: Chris Warren