When one contemplates fishing in the winter months, there are far less options available than during the other three seasons of the year.
Yes, I realize Wyoming has been noted for two seasons which are winter and road construction, but in all seriousness, fishing is not impacted by the time of year. Fishing can be done every month as long as one is prepared for the conditions in each of those months.
January, the month we are now considering, is the month for cold weather. This Big Horn Basin section of the Cowboy State can expect to see extreme temperature fluctuations. We can experience temperatures well below zero and in the 40s and 50s on some days. Generally speaking, the average temperature for the month hovers around 32 degrees Fahrenheit during the day when most anglers venture outdoors to enjoy our sport.
Ice fishing is the general pastime for many anglers in January. Lakes and ponds usually hold ice strong enough for people to walk on. If we are lucky, the temperatures have even been cold enough to ride out on the ice on ATV’s or even passenger cars, so we do not have to lug the ice auger, fishing buckets, rods and small shelters on our backs or pulled behind us on a lightweight sled or toboggan.
Once upon a time, anglers took their chances when drilling a hole in the ice. There was still a mystery involved as to where one should locate on the ice that would be a likely spot to find the fish, then drill a hole and jig away with an ice fly, Dixie spoon or a hook rigged with bait.
This is no longer the case. Thanks to micro-chip computerized technology, fish finders and GPS monitors are now small enough for ice fishermen to carry out on the ice. This makes locating the ‘fishy’ spots much easier than it was 10 years ago. Once the fish have been located, all of this information can now be stored on these electronic devices for a future fishing date and the angler can just turn on the GPS unit and go directly back to where his or her hole in the ice was the last time they ventured out on the ice.
Clothing has also improved over the years so that now, in the 21st century, frostbite, fatigue and stomping around all day to stay warm is truly a thing of the past. Snowmobile suits and the standard Carhart insulated denim coveralls now use insulation and wind blocking materials that keep outdoor enthusiasts and ice fishers much more comfortable. Boots, gloves and headgear have also been updated with better insulating materials. Now we can fish on the ice all day or even all night in comfort and even style, if one thinks dressing in a stylish way is important when ice fishing.
The reservoirs that have been ice fishing well in the Basin so far in January has been West Newton, Beck Lake, Wardell, Deaver, Sunshine lakes, Hogan, New Cody and Yellowtail. Buffalo Bill has some good ice in the shade of Sheep and Cedar Mountain but the winds can make trekking out too far on the ice at Buffalo Bill interesting, if not dangerous. Layer up, sharpen the ice auger and enjoy the ice fishing in January.