The following is continued from our outdoors story, A Winter Jig. Click here for part 1 of this story.
Justin Harding, photo from utahicefishing.com.
Justin Harding, is an outdoorsman, who loves to fish, mountain bike, and ski—but he became one of Utah’s preeminent fishing guides mostly by accident.
A decade ago, a professionally-guided trip fell through for Harding’s friends. Knowing Harding is an angling enthusiast, they turned to Harding instead of trying to find a professional replacement. “I told them I didn’t know how to guide, but I saw an opportunity there and thought it might be fun. It ended up going really well, so I turned that experience into a career that I love.” It’s a business that goes by the names utahproflyfishing.com and utahicefishing.com.
Harding’s service has since helped hundreds of people, from 6-year-olds to National Geographic travelers, land their first Utah trout. Harding’s success is partially driven by his ubiquitous online presence, but even more by word-of-mouth recommendations fueled by his contagious passion for the sport. “I love that feeling of success when you catch a fish, and it’s even better sharing it with others—seeing someone else click with the sport.”
Harding’s theory behind ice fishing success is as refreshing as the chill mornings he spends behind a reel. “Everybody wants to catch a fish.” His tip for doing so: “Don’t be too active when you’re ice fishing. You’re not fishing parallel to the water anymore, you’re perpendicular, so just use an ice jig and relax a little.”
Get the Gear
Eskimo FatFish 767
The wind is not your friend: A tent helps beat back the chill.
$299.99, Cabelas, Lehi, cabelas.com
Eskimo Standard 8-inch Hand Auger
You need a hole for ice fishing. This bores one big enough to haul Nessie through.
$42.99, Sportsman’s Warehouse, Midvale, sportsmanswarehouse.com
Mr. Heater Big Buddy Portable Heater
Warmth, courtesy of your camping stove‘s the propane bottles.
$139.99, Sportsman’s Warehouse, Midvale, sportsmanswarehouse.com
Berkley Lightning Rod Ice Combo
Designed to defy cliché, this combo is begging for multiple strikes.
$24.99, Angler’s Den, Roy, 801-773-1166
Humminbird Fishin’ Buddy 110
Fishing blind is for the bats. Everyone else uses a fish finder.
$139.99, Fish Tech Outfitters, SLC, 801-272-8808
The Utah State Parks Trifishalon
The first ever Trifishalon was hosted by Utah State Parks last year with the winner taking home an $800 gift card to Sportsman’s Warehouse. This year’s prize (and fish) will be even bigger, so study up on the dates and details below if you want to join in.
The tournament is split between three reservoirs—Scofield, Rockport, and Starvation—and participants must enter all three events to qualify for the grand prize.
Cost is $50 per person for the full tournament, but anyone can compete in a single event for $15 ($10 if you’re under 16 years old). The competitor with the largest total measurement between all three reservoirs wins.
Registration deadlines: Scofield, Dec. 3-26; Rockport, Dec. 3-Jan. 16; Starvation, Dec. 3-Feb. 6
Detailed rules can be found at the Utah State Parks website.