Ice fishing reports continue to be only fair overall and, with the warmer weather hitting this week, ice conditions in the Helena area which are borderline already, could deteriorate even more.
But for now, this is what I am hearing out of our Capital City — definitely a hot spot for winter fishing activity when ice conditions are good.
A couple of the reservoirs over there are producing catches of perch and salmon, according to Troy Humphrey and Eric Roberts from the Helena Area Resource Office.
Canyon Ferry saw ice fisherman out in full force last weekend between the Silos and Hole In the Wall. Perch fishing has been good early in the morning and just before dark.
Most of the successful perch anglers have been using drop lines and maggots. Rainbow anglers have not faired as well in that area of the lake.
At last report, the ice thickness is still only 4-6 inches in the Silos area with open water on the northern part of the lake.
Hauser Lake ice fishing for rainbow and perch has been fair at Black Sandy, where 7 inches of ice is present. Ice in the Causeway is not stable enough to provide access, however shore anglers are having good success for rainbows on the Lake Helena side in open water. Roberts suggests using worms or marshmallows to catch some nice-sized rainbows.
Holter Lake does not have enough ice to provide stable ice fishing conditions.
The Helena Valley Regulating Reservoir has many ice anglers catching their limits of kokanee salmon. The best kokanee fishing seems to 7 to 9 a.m.
Humphrey recommends fishing 15-20 feet below the ice with glow hooks tipped with maggots or corn below a flasher. A few perch are also being caught. The ice thickness is about 7 inches.
Mike Violette, of Missoula, has been ice fishing around quite a few lakes in Western Montana lately.
Pike fishing in the Milltown dam area has not been very good. He only picked up a few whitefish. Fishing at Placid Lake is slow, but he landed quite a few species. Perch, whitefish, pearmouth, trout, salmon and suckers took his offerings.
Violette noted that Placid would be a good place to take your kids because you can usually catch something before the kids lose their interest in the fishing and just want to play in the snow.
Reports from Seeley Lake say that northern pike ice anglers are spearing and fishing on about 5 inches of ice. Warm conditions over the weekend left the ice under standing water. A couple of anglers using tip-ups and smelt landed a couple of northern pike in the 20-pound class.
Georgetown Lake, a popular stop for Western Montana ice anglers, is fishing fair for both salmon and trout.
SLED DOGS: Philipsburg will play host to the Pintlar Turkey Run Sled Dog Race this Friday through Sunday. On Saturday morning, I will broadcast the Montana Outdoor Radio Show from Sunshine Station. My guest will include a few of the mushers who will be taking part in the two-day sled dog race.
HOOKED ON FISHING: It is time to sign up to be a volunteer teacher for the Hooked On Fishing program that takes place in area schools. I volunteered last year and can tell you that I had a great time teaching kids about nature and fishing.
Les Rutledge, “The Fish Guy,” does all the prep work. All you have to do is follow his outline. It only takes about one hour each month through May. Call Rutledge at 549-4308 today and sign up for schools. I’m sure it will be a rewarding experience for both you and the kids you’ll help to become better fishermen.