Below you will find conditions, fishing prospects and general information on the Clearwater region’s ice fisheries. Ice conditions can be extremely variable. Many environmental factors can affect the quality and strength of ice. It is your responsibility to check ice thickness and conditions when venturing onto the ice. For ice fishing safety tips, visit Fish and Game’s ice fishing webpage.
Remember: Get a 2023 fishing license before you go fishing in the new year.
North Clearwater Ice Fisheries
Spring Valley Reservoir: Rainbow trout, bluegill, crappie and bass
There is 6-8 inches of ice with some slush and snow on top. However, daily highs above freezing and rain in the forecast could deteriorate the ice that has formed, so use extreme caution next weekend. We expect the next few weeks to bring colder weather and Spring Valley to form more consistent ice conditions.
Although there were 9,000 trout in October, fishing for rainbow trout has been slow. Those anglers braving the weather reported catching a handful of bluegill ranging from 8 to 9.5 inches. Spring surveys found the average size of bluegill in Spring Valley Reservoir has increased over the past few years and is slightly larger than 8 inches. Anglers who catch bluegill say a sonar (vexilar) has been a must-have piece of gear and rigging a small blue or chartreuse jig tipped with a worm, 6-12 inches off the bottom has been a successful presentation.
Moose Creek Reservoir: Crappie, rainbow trout, bass, bluegill
Moose Creek has 10 inches of ice with 9 inches of slushy snow. The forecast for above-freezing temperatures won’t help the mud, but at least there’s a good ice base underneath. Ice anglers should still be aware of possible soft spots in the ice, especially around pre-existing auger holes.
Rainbow trout fishing was hot in early December, but has since slowed. Moose Creek received over 10,000 trout in the fall, so there are still plenty of fish to be caught. Working a red crappie jig in midwater is still the ticket and will catch everything from trout to crappie. We even saw one angler get completely worked over by a tanker bass hooked on a small crappie jig and curl tail.
Elk Creek Reservoir: Brook trout, rainbow trout, crappie, bluegill, bass
There is approximately 20 inches of ice in Elk Creek Reservoir, with a false top of 2 inches of frozen mud. The current snow on the ice is dry and fluffy, but the warmer weather and rain expected this weekend could make things slushy.
The road is currently plowed to the reservoir, and there is little or no sign of ice fishing activity. As such, we do not have a current fishing report for Elk Creek Reservoir. For those venturing into Elk Creek Reservoir, remember that brook trout count toward your daily limit of 6 trout.
East Clearwater Ice Fisheries
Deer Creek Reservoir: Tiger, brook and rainbow trout
Current ice conditions are good with 7 inches of clear ice and 4 inches of frozen slush on top. There is a gate about ¾ of a mile before you reach the reservoir, so bring your snowshoes, cross-country skis, and an eagerness to do it.
Angler usage has been low at Deer Creek Reservoir, but those willing to walk have been catching tiger trout 10-20 yards off the west shore. Because of the extra walk anglers have been using very simple setups. Rods with worm-tipped hooks suspended in the lower half of the water column are as simple as they come and fit nicely in a backpack or 5-gallon bucket.
External deposit: Rainbow trout, bluegill, largemouth bass, catfish
Deyo currently has the best ice conditions in the Clearwater region, with 8 inches of clear ice and about an inch of slush on top. You’d think easy access from the reservoir would make Deyo one of Clearwater’s most popular ice fisheries. However, very few anglers have ventured to Deyo this season, and it remains quite a place with limited competition. Local anglers, and some anglers willing to make the trek down here, have had moderate success catching trout on Powerbait just below the surface.
Campbells Pond: Rainbow trout, bluegill, largemouth bass, catfish
We currently have no reports on Campbells Pond.
South Clearwater Ice Fisheries
Lake Winchester: Rainbow trout, yellow perch, channel catfish, tiger muskie, crappie, bluegill, bass
Spring surveys found Winchester’s fish assemblage to be dominated by small yellow perch, and ice anglers will confirm this is the case. For every 9-inch perch caught, anglers will catch a dozen less than 7-inch perch. Using a tipped perch pattern rip’n-rap will catch “bigger” perch and some trout. Anglers have also been catching trout by simply hanging a worm in the middle of the water and watching for a strike. Most trout caught are 12-14 inches, but anglers caught a few 16-inch trout last weekend that were loaded with smallmouth bass.
Fight, the mud, the mud! There is about 6 inches of ice in Winchester, but there is 9 inches of slush on top and the shores are starting to soften with the warm weather we have had. Go with extreme caution next weekend and like most other fisheries expect the colder forecast to ensure ice conditions after the new year.
Soldiers Meadow Depot: Rainbow trout, kokanee salmon, smallmouth bass
Current ice conditions remain poor, with most of the reservoir having slushy, soft ice around the edges. It looks like anglers will have to wait until after the new year and probably longer into mid-January before ice conditions improve at Soldiers Meadow.
Lake Tolo: Channel catfish, bluegill, rockfish, bass, rainbow trout
The catfish through the ice experience will have to wait. Warm weather this week makes Tolo Lake look more like a duck pond than an ice fishery. Winter really has to make up her mind, but until she does, Tolo is a no-go.
For more information on ice fishing in Idaho and ice fishing tips, read this latest story: Expert Ice Fishing: F&G staff share their tips so you can catch more fish.