‘Tis the season for ice-fishing.
While all of us hope for good ice in December, the truth of the matter in most years is that the peak of the ice-fishing year – usually with the best and safest ice conditions – comes in early February.
I know I’ve got the ice-fishing fever. And it seems that I like hearing about what happens even on the places I may never get to.
Some fishing events have already fallen victim to El Nino. For example, last week the Stan Shaeffer Memorial Ice Derby on Clark Canyon Reservoir was canceled because of bad ice. Then I heard a report that the ice-fishing was excellent over the weekend. So be aware that ice conditions can change daily because of the weather.
The fishing at Lake Frances has been pretty good for perch. Jack Schilla from Depuyer reports that they are not catching a lot of football-size perch between 12 and 14 inches, but if you fish long enough you might come away with a half a dozen.
In the meantime, you will probably catch quite a few smaller ones to keep you busy. Schilla also reported that angler Cody Yurek of Centerville caught a 46-inch northern pike last week that weighed in at around 30 pounds.
Ice-fishing has also been fair on the western part of Tiber Reservoir, according to Highline Cleaners in Chester. Nancy Nelson from Joplin reports that several walleyes have been caught between 6 and 10 pounds. In fact she heard of one angler catching one 32 inches and another walleye that went 34 inches last week. Down south by Helena reports have varied for the ice-fishing. One angler told me that they fished the Helena Valley Regulating Reservoir over the weekend and only caught one salmon. They did catch a few perch though.
The Causeway on Hauser Lake has produced a few walleyes, but for the most part it has been pretty slow.
Over here in western Montana, ice-fishing has kicked into gear in most places, according to Dick Zimmer. Zimmer says that the hottest perch fishing is at Pablo Reservoir with a lot of fish between 9 and 12 inches being caught. You might even catch an occasional bass.
Lake Mary Ronan is still producing nice catches of perch with some salmon beginning to be caught. Night fishing and early morning is the best for the salmon.
Zimmer also says that Foy’s Lake, near Kalispell, Hubbard Reservoir and Georgetown Lake have all been good bets for salmon. In fact, Georgetown has also had great trout fishing for mostly rainbow and a few brook trout.
Crow Reservoir has had quite a few anglers on it recently, according to Zimmer. Crow Reservoir ice anglers will have the opportunity to catch a smorgasbord of fish. Perch, bass, a variety of trout and even northern pike can be caught on the reservoir just west of Ronan.