Ice Fishing in Fossil Basin

Wyoming’s Fossil Basin is a remarkable destination for outdoor enthusiasts, offering a diverse array of activities throughout the year. While summer draws anglers from far and wide for its exceptional fishing opportunities, the wintertime transforms the landscape into a frozen wonderland, where ice fishing takes center stage at Lake Viva Naughton. 



Gear Up for Icy Adventures

Before embarking on a frozen excursion, it’s crucial to prepare for the unique challenges that go along with ice fishing. The right equipment can make all the difference in your experience. Here are some essential items to consider:

  • Ice Fishing Shelter: While not a necessity, this piece of gear will make your experience a lot warmer! Protect yourself from the elements by setting up an ice fishing shelter, which acts as a portable, heated hub for your adventure. It provides respite from the cold and wind, making your trip more comfortable.
  • Ice Auger: To access the water beneath the ice, you’ll need an ice auger. Manual and power augers are available, and choosing the right one depends on your preferences and the thickness of the ice.
  • Fishing Gear: Standard fishing gear is suitable for ice fishing, but make sure to use shorter, sensitive rods and reels designed for the cold conditions. Ice fishing line is less likely to freeze, ensuring your gear runs smoothly as you reel in the big one!
  • Warm Clothing: Dress in layers to stay warm. Insulated boots, waterproof clothing, gloves (consider fingerless mittens paired with fitted gloves so your hands stay warm even while you work with bait and jigs), and a good quality winter hat are must-haves.
  • Ice Safety Gear: Safety is paramount when venturing onto the ice. In addition to checking ice thickness and watching temps, carry ice picks, a throwable flotation device, and a safety rope in case of emergencies.In addition, please be sure to have the appropriate fishing license and be familiar with Wyoming’s fishing regulations.


Photo by Kirk Rassmussen


The Species Beneath the Ice

Fossil Basin offers ice anglers a variety of species to target, each with its own unique characteristics and challenges. Common species found beneath the ice include:

  • Rainbow Trout: Rainbow trout are a favorite among ice anglers in Fossil Basin. These fish thrive in the cold waters and provide exciting challenges and beautiful colors for those seeking a rewarding catch.
  • Splake: Splake, a hybrid fish resulting from a cross between brook trout and lake trout, are a captivating addition to the ice fishing experience in Fossil Basin. With a mix of characteristics from both parent species, splake offers a unique challenge for anglers.
  • Brook Trout: Fossil Basin’s waters also hold populations of brook trout, known for their vibrant colors and willingness to bite during the winter.
  • Tiger Trout: Tiger trout, a hybrid of brown and brook trout, are another exciting addition to the ice fishing species roster in Fossil Basin. With unique markings and a reputation for voracious feeding, they are a sought-after catch.
  • Brown Trout: Brown trout are another popular species among ice anglers. These fish are known for their elusive nature and can provide a thrilling challenge on a frozen Fossil Basin lake.


Photo by Kirk Rasmussen


Enjoy Spirited Competition 

The annual Kemmerer Lions Club Ice Fishing Derby is a celebrated event in the Fossil Basin region, drawing avid anglers and outdoor enthusiasts from near and far. Hosted by the Kemmerer Lions Club, this ice fishing derby has become a tradition that embodies the spirit of community and the love for angling in the wintertime. Participants of all ages gather on the frozen Lake Viva Naughton to compete for prizes, share stories, and enjoy the thrill of ice fishing. This event not only showcases the natural beauty of the area but also serves as a platform for local conservation efforts and charitable initiatives, reflecting the Lions Club’s commitment to the community and the preservation of Wyoming’s pristine natural resources. 

The Kemmerer Lions Club Ice Fishing Derby is a testament to the enduring connection between the people and the landscapes of Fossil Basin, making it a must-attend for those seeking a true winter adventure. For more information and to participate, visit the official website.


Ice fishing in Fossil Basin is a mesmerizing and rewarding winter activity that allows anglers to connect with the unique natural beauty of this region while pursuing a variety of prized fish species. Before heading out onto the ice, be sure to check ice conditions and follow all safety guidelines. With the right gear and a passion for angling, you can create lasting memories in this ancient landscape, where fishing in the winter becomes an unforgettable adventure.

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Kassia Vinsel