Despite spotty ice conditions, ice anglers are starting to head out and start fishing lakes around the state. The reports are starting to come in slow, but the ones that I have heard are looking good for ice and folks catching some fish. As always, the ice conditions can change so use caution. These are the ice fishing reports that I gathered on Tuesday:
Georgetown lake is a popular ice fishing spot and Mary from the Sunshine Factory in Philipsburg says that there is ice on the lake and there does seem to be a lot of fisherman fishing, “I don’t know what they are catching but I have seen a lot people near the pump house fishing, I don’t think the ice is very good yet because most of the them are staying close to shore”.
Browns Lake has ice and the reports have been good with some nice trout being caught. “Browns normally has some pretty good fishing before the first of the year with first ice on but it can also be hit and miss too!”, said Jim Johnson from Lincoln.
It might surprise you that East Polson Bay on Flathead Lake has fishable ice, but that is the information that I got from Dick Zimmer at Zimmers Tackle in Pablo (406-675-0068), “East Polson Bay has as much as 8 inches of ice in some places but it is not all across the bay at least it wasn’t on Monday”. Using the Zimmer Tackle Trilobite Lure, he caught some lake trout and a few small perch fishing in 2 to 3 feet of water while staying close to the trailer park which is located on the east shore. The white fish are still spawning and the fishing is fair by the Polson Bridge on Flathead River, “I am having some luck using the country mile lure but chunks of ice floating in the river was causing some problem the other night as the ice as getting caught up against the my boat, so I only caught one fish but it can be good and those ice conditions will change sometimes even daily,” said Zimmer.
Crow Reservoir has about 6 inches of ice, and the trout have been liking the ready to go perch set-up tipped with a piece of night crawler. Tube jigs tipped with a night crawler or maggot have also worked well. Lonepine Reservoir has ice and the smaller northern pike are biting.
The ice has not been good enough to get out on Lake Mary Ronan, and remember that Pablo and Ninepipes are closed until after waterfowl hunting season ends after the first of the year.
Some other popular places up by Kalispell that have enough safe ice to get on at this time are Church Slough and Blanchard Lake. I have not heard any fishing reports from either lake but if you can get on Church Slough at first ice the northern pike fishing is usually pretty good. Chancy from Snappys (406-257-7525) in Kalispell and Zimmer normally have up to date ice and fishing information on many in the Flathead area by Kalispell.
One final note, Joe Moline told me that his son, Cameron, ice fished Fresno Reservoir Sunday and Monday up by Havre and caught some decent eating-sized walleyes and some smaller northern pike and a ling.
So, if you are looking at planning a trip over east then I would recommend calling Leonard at Roberts Bait and Tackle in Great Falls (406-454-1877) for current information on the Helena area Reservoirs and Tiber Reservoir.
(Written by the Captain)