From Montana FWP: Ice fishing is a great (and we’d say, the best) way to get out and spend the day in the winter. But remember, no ice is 100% safe and no fish, no matter how big, is worth your life. Meet FWP’s Stacy Schmidt (crab hunter by night, ice safety technician by day) and her Lewis and Clark Search and Rescue team.
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Canyon Ferry Depot – Rainbows are being caught from the silos south to the ponds in 10-15 feet of water on pink, brown or black jigs with worms or maggots. Walleye and perch are being caught around Hole in the Wall and mid-reservoir between Silos and Duck Creek in 30 feet of water while using Hali or red, yellow, or orange rigs tipped with worms , worms or perch eyes. Stay away from the pressure ridges at the south end of the reservoir. There is 18-20 inches of ice from the silos to the ponds, 10-15 inches of ice around Duck Creek and the north end has 3-5 inches of ice. – FWP, Helena
Kicking Horse Depot – Pike, trout and bass have been active. Anything with a night crawler attached will probably give you a look at brown trout or bass. With pike, the ideal is to use a whole smelt. People might as well grab one or two. About 15 inches of ice has been reported across the reservoir. – Zimmer Bait and Tackle, Pablo
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Around western Montana
Lake Ashley – There were high hopes for Ashley to start the season because of the impressive size of the kokanee caught last year. However, this season the larger kokanee have not shown up. However, there are many smaller ones. – Zimmer Bait and Tackle, Pablo
Beaver Lake – Salmon fishing has been good with some good sized fish to start. Putting a line in the water during the morning hours has been key. Successful anglers have been using Hali rigs tipped with worms. The road has recently been plowed. – Ray Ward, Kalispell
Clark Canyon Reservoir – Fishing peaked for the season this past weekend with the annual fishing derby. A few participants came out for a rare calm day on the ice. Many even camped overnight to secure the best spots when it was time to leave. Unfortunately, the fish did not cooperate as the anglers had hoped. Catch rates were quite low and most anglers described the action as “slow”. Bait rigs produced a few fish throughout the day. The good old nightcrawler is a safe bet at 7-11 feet in and around channels. Stay away from the red rock end unless you are very familiar with it due to the thin ice. The ice is universally around 18 inches in most other places. – Frontier Anglers, Dillon
Flathead Lake – Somers Bay is a good place to find consistent ice as well as fishing for lake trout and whitefish. It may take some trial and error to find the fish as depths can vary daily. – Ray Ward, Kalispell
Hauser Reservoir – In Lake Helena and near the power lines in the Causeway Arm a few perch or walleyes are being found while trolling near the bottom on glow jigs and crawlers. Rainbow trout continue to be picked up in the Causeway area while using various colored rigs tipped with worms or crawlers 6-10 feet below the ice. The Causeway has about 10 inches, Lake Helena about 15 inches, and Black Sandy has about a foot of ice. – FWP, Helena
Holter deposit – Perch action is still pretty good, with solid numbers being discovered from the launch point and Prairie Dog Town on the lower end of the reservoir while using Hali jigs and worms near the bottom in 35-45 feet of water. A few rainbows are being caught at the Gates of the Mountains while using various machines or ice flies with worms or crawlers 3-10 feet below the ice. The Gates of the Mountains has about 10 inches, the BLM ramp has about 7 inches, Departure Point has about 8 inches, and Prairie Dog Town has about 8 inches of ice. – FWP, Helena
Regulatory reservoir of the Helena Valley – Kokanee and perch fishing has been pretty good while using Hali or Sweedish Pimple type ice rigs tipped with worms or corn near the bottom in 25-35 feet of water. 14-15 inches of ice reported. – FWP, Helena
Lake Mary Ronan – Plenty of 10- to 13-inch perch are being caught in the state launch area in about 30 feet of water. – Ray Ward, Kalispell
Pablo’s Deposit – Anglers can catch perch and bass all day long. The perch has been on the smaller side. Pike and crappie have also made an occasional appearance. A few heads have also been taken at the end of the day. For perch and bass, nightcrawlers have outnumbered maggots. Both baits will catch fish though. Approximately 15 inches of ice has been reported across the reservoir. – Zimmer Bait and Tackle, Pablo
Whitefish Lake – About 5-7 inches of ice has been reported along with decent lake trout action. Whitefish are also biting in about 40-60 feet of water. – Chancy and Dave’s Fish Camp, Evergreen
Matthew Kiewiet is the managing editor of The Montana Standard.
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