Cisco Time

Fry a Netful

Story and Photos by Kris Millgate

It’s cold and gray. My nose is leaking. My fingertips are freezing. I’m aware of my low comfort level as I start running. My swift steps across slick-polished rock are risky in wet wading boots, but I’m in a hurry, so I keep hobbling along. Little Davey’s dad has a net full of cisco and I need to see it.

Cisco time happens every winter. You can fish for cisco into February, but the peak is a ten-day spawning run in late January when you can catch the small fish with a net. Otherwise, you can snag them from boats with standard fishing equipment. Bear Lake is the only place in the world where you can fish for the pencil-length fish called Bonneville cisco [see “Cisco Fever,” IDAHO magazine, February 2009].

“You walk out into about knee-deep water. You have your dip net and you set it out in front of you and you just watch,” fisherman David Longfellow explains to me. “You watch and wait and you see these little black pencils sliding through the water and you just do what you can to scoop them up.”

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