Some local lakes offer ice fishing

Some friends of mine talked about going ice fishing this winter. I'm new to the area and wasn't aware ice fishing was allowed. What lakes are open to ice fishing? Does it require a special license?

— Carl H., Medford

At 4,600-feet elevation, Fish Lake is a popular ice-fishing lake. The lake, about halfway between Medford and Klamath Falls on Highway 140, caters to newbies such as yourself, as well as veteran ice-fishers. Other local, high-elevation lakes that are open to ice fishing are Lake of the Woods in Klamath County and, beginning Jan. 1, Diamond Lake in Douglas County.

Depending on the weather, ice fishing could start as early as mid-December, but typically by January the ice is thick enough, said Debbi Blodgett, who owns Fish Lake Resort with her husband.

Before you and your buddies head for the lake, Carl, call ahead to get an update on ice conditions. Fish Lake Resort, which can be reached at 541-949-8500, is only open Fridays through Sundays during the winter. However, for liability reasons, Blodgett never says the lake is "safe."

No special license is required, just a valid angling license. You also may need a Sno-Park permit.

Fish Lake resort rents augers, which you'll need to cut a hole in the ice. Augers cost $15 to $20 to rent for four hours or $80 to buy.

For your debut, any old fishing pole will do, but if you plan to pursue ice fishing more seriously, you'll need a short rod, about 24-inches long, Blodgett said.

At Fish Lake, you'll find rainbow trout, brook trout, spring chinook salmon and tiger trout, but the latter is catch-and-release only, said Dan Van Dyke, a district fish biologist with the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife.

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