This is my first column for 2012 and what a difference a year makes in Montana when it comes to the weather. Last year I at this time I reported that the ice conditions were not consistent because of the amount of snow that we had received across Montana. This year the ice conditions are also not consistent but for a different reason.
The lack of snow combined with above freezing temperatures have not been ideal for making good ice on our lakes. However there is still ice fishing on certain lakes around Montana, but on some of the larger lakes like Fort Peck Reservoir, Flathead Lake, and even Tiber Reservoir boaters can launch and do some open water fishing.
In any case I would highly recommend calling and checking out current conditions on the lake that you intend on ice fishing and no matter what the report use caution when on the ice. As of a couple of days ago this is what I can report to you on ice conditions and ice fishing on area lakes.
Georgetown Lake has good ice and is fishing well for salmon in 15-18 feet of water using glo-hooks. The ice fishing has started to pick up on the east bay on Browns Lake in about 4 feet of water. “Reports I have heard the anglers are using red/white, white/black, and chartreuse colored jigs on Browns”, said Bill Brown from Bob Wards.
Lake Como still has ice and anglers have been catching some nice fish. Seeley Lake is getting sloppy on top and on Salmon Lake anglers are starting to pick up some northern pike fishing from shore. Flathead River is lots of open water and anglers are still catching a few northern pike rolling a stick-bait on the bottom in 8-10 feet of water. Flathead Lake has plenty of open water and boat anglers are having success in 5-120 feet of water fishing for lake trout.
There are some lakes up in the Kalispell area that reports are coming out of with some good ice fishing. Hubbard Reservoir anglers are catching a few small 12-14 inch rainbows. The Upper Thompson Lake reports some good perch fishing.
The same reports are coming out of Lower Stillwater Lake for the perch and anglers are also catching a few northern pike. Beaver Lake is frozen but the kokanee salmon fishing has been slow. Lake Mary Ronan the ice fishing has been good for perch. For current reports for all the lakes up in the Kalispell area call Chancy at Snappys. (406-257-7525)
I will be heading over to Nelson Reservoir this Sunday to ice fish for walleye and northern pike with Jim Johnson from Lincoln and Steve Knudson from Billings. The last fishing report I received from Nelson Reservoir it had 12-14 inches of ice with water on the top. Ice cleats for your boots should be a must wear for anyone spending the day on the ice. Good Luck ice fishing and be careful.