Cold Weather=Good Ice: Captain’s Column (1.7.16)
By angelamontana

Posted: January 7, 2016

The cold weather has been making some good ice and the ice fishing reports are coming in strong. Jim Johnson and Denny Peterson had two great days last weekend on Holter Reservoir. They caught their limit both days of perch in the 10-15 inch class. Holter ice conditions are still pretty thin. This is the latest report from Troy Humphrey from Montana Fish Wildlife and Parks for Holter Reservoir over by Helena, “Perch fishing has been very good with limits of 10 inch perch consistently being caught.

The perch are being caught around Holter Dam, Log Gulch and Departure Point in 10 to 40 feet of water on jigs and maggots or worms. There is 4 inches of ice around Log Gulch, Departure Point and Holter Ramp and 2 to 3 inches around the dam.  Holter ice conditions can change daily so use caution as wind and warmer temps can make the ice unstable”. On Hauser Reservoir upstream this is what Humphrey had to say, “Rainbow fishing has been a bit slow in the Causeway with a few being caught while using jigs and maggots in 8 to 12 feet of water.  An occasional walleye and ling at night are being caught.  The ice in the Causeway is 8 inches.

Fishing is slow around Black Sandy where there is 10 to 12 inches of good ice”. Adam Strainer from FWP had a chance to give his report on the ice and ice fishing on Canyon Ferry Reservoir as well, “Rainbow trout are being caught between Pond 4 and Hole-in-the-Wall.  Fishing has been best using various colors of jigs or ice flies, tipped with worms or maggots, in 10 feet of water. A few yellow perch are being caught near Hole-in-the-Wall in 35 to 60 feet of water using Hali jigs, Swedish Pimples or jigs tipped with maggots.  Ice conditions have been reported at 8 to 12-inches from Pond 4 to Hole-in-the-Wall.  Variable conditions exist elsewhere, so please use caution”. If you are looking for kokanee fishing then maybe you might want to try the Helena Regulating Reservoir, “Kokanee action is fair while using ice flies or jigs and maggots or corn in 20 to 35 feet of water.  A lot of small perch are being caught just off the bottom at varying depths.  There is 10 inches of ice”.

Dick Zimmer from Zimmers tackle in Pablo decided to give the east Polson Bay of Flathead Lake a try. The ice was iffy at best according to Zimmer but because he was going to be fishing over only about 3 and half feet of water he decided to give it a try. The results were good with Zimmer filling a 5 gallon bucket ¾ of the way full with perch. According to Zimmer while the fishing was good he had two problems plaguing him. “The first was trying to keep my bait away from the smaller fish.  Second, the ice was slowly sinking around me.  I knew I’d have to leave at some time or the ice would break but the fishing was so good I was in a real dilemma”. Well as you might imagine he made it home safe and and Zimmer thinks with the colder temperatures that the ice will be much better than last week when he caught those perch.

There is a huge payout ice derby coming up it is the West Yellowstone/Hebgen Lake Tournament on January 15-17th . It is being billed as two-thirds education and one-third competition with a maximum entry of 150 two-persons teams. This Tournament will have an anticipated prize pool of at least $14,000.00 and could be as high as $21,000.00. Plus, there are cash payouts from the Calcutta Saturday night. To register your two person team log onto westyellowstoneicefishing.com.

(Written by Mark Ward aka the Captain)