This is “can’t” time in Montana for both ice anglers and open water anglers. You can’t go ice fishing because there is not enough good ice left and can’t go fishing in a boat because there is not enough open water.
That description covers a wide range of waters in Montana.
But, then again, this is Montana and things are not the same everywhere. For example, Georgetown Lake is still holding a good layer of safe ice according to Bill Dirkes, at The Sunshine Station (406-859-3450) in Philipsburg.
“Fishing is spotty with some guys doing really well and others not so good but the trout and the salmon seem to be running a little bigger,” says Dirkes.
Mike Violette, of Lolo, reported, “I fished Georgetown Sunday 20 plus inches of ice. 45 degrees and sunny great conditions to take the kids out. One inch of snow on the ice and no slush. On top of that my fishing was real good, fished till 2:30 and the fish bit all day.”
While Georgetown has good ice, don’t head over to Helena and expect to ice fish. “Ice anglers came off the ice Sunday and said they won’t be driving their vehicles out anymore,” according to Jennifer from the Silos RV (406-266-3100). “The fishing has been pretty slow but most of the ice anglers will either take an ATV or walk out if they go.”
The boat ramp is not yet ready to launch on Canyon Ferry Lake according to Jennifer. Some miles to the north, Paul at the Canyon Store in Wolf Creek says the ice on Holter Lake is not safe and the boat ramp on the south end is unusable.
According to the montanaoutdoor.com outdoor chat fishing information, the ramp at the Gates of the Mountains has open water and a couple of boats as of Sunday had use it to get out on the water.
However the message also said that the wind had blown some large chunks of ice in the boat ramp area so that might for the time being make it a little tougher to use the ramp.
The bottom line is this time of the year be ready for anything when you go out expecting to use your boat on a area lake. The best bet is to call ahead to a marina or sporting goods store and ask someone who knows.
Rivers are a better bet if you want to go fishing. “The trout and whitefish fishing is excellent on the Missouri below Holter Dam”, says Paul from the Canyon Store. Pink Scuds seem to be the trick with a little weight. Pheasant tails and bead heads also are recommended.
Also, lake trout fishing is awesome on Flathead Lake according to Dick Zimmer (406-675-0068) from Pablo.
“A couple of local anglers went out Sunday and landed 102 lake trout off of Rocky Point in 190 to 210 feet of water,” said Zimmer. “All the major boat ramps are usable from Big Arm to Blue Bay to Yellow on the south end of the lake.”
Zimmer recommends using a all glow or glow chartreuse or pink lady 1 ounce to 1 and half ounce Rattle D Zaster. Tipping it with flavored cut bait seems to work the best. As effective options, tie a fly about 14 inches up the leader from the hook and tip that with maggots.