Well we made it to February! Ice fishing is in full swing with ice on the lakes and reservoirs, probably in the best shape it has been for a few years all over Montana. Elk shoulder seasons are still in effect in some hunting districts until February 15th and the wolf hunters and trappers have harvest 206 wolves as Monday.
The month of February is noted as the last best month normally in Montana to ice fish. The reports have been coming in and there is some pretty good ice fishing to be had if you hit the lake at the right time. Ever heard “should have been here yesterday”?
Marlon Starr had this to say about a recent ice fishing trip on Flathead Lake with Dick Zimmer, aka the Macman from Zimmer Tackle in Pablo, “The weather was near perfect at East Bay of the Ducharme access turnoff. After about a mile trek with the ice shed we came across two lads who were more than kind enough to inform us what they were catching. With the information obtained the Macman and I were able to pick out a spot on the ice where the perch could possibly be hiding. For about ten minutes there was absolutely nothing; no bite, but out of nowhere a massive bite came and my hooks were swarmed by the hungry perch. Just as fast as the bite came in it left in the same speed. The ten minute pattern repeated itself four or five times before I decided to move. This pattern went on for the rest of the day. When we finally packed up and went home
I heard the Macman say, “Well we are the last ones out, that’s happened to me so many times out here.” For our efforts we each had a 5 gallon bucket half full, containing 95 perch all ranging from 9-12 inches long. The moral of Starr’s story is you might have to move a lot to find active fish when you are ice fishing and before you know you are all alone”.
Zimmer had this report from Lake Mary Ronan, “Lake Mary Ronan had some great Kokanee and perch fishing a week ago but that has slowed some. Best fishing was from 10:00 a.m. to 1:00 p.m. The fish preferred maggots”.
Holter Reservoir has been a popular perch fishing lake this winter but it is also hit and miss according Troy Humphrey from FWP,“Perch fishing continues to be inconsistent with those that are finding the schools doing really well. The best perch catches are occurring around the Boat Loft, the prairie dog town and near Split Rock in 15 to 25 feet of water on jigs and maggots or worms. These areas plus the Gates of the Mountains are producing a few rainbows as well on jigs and maggots or powerbait in 10 feet of water. There is about 14 to 20 inches of ice around Log Gulch, Departure Point and Holter Ramp”. Ice fishing on the Helena Regulating Reservoir might be a good place to try for kokanee salmon, “Kokanee action picked up again with best action occurring while using ice flies or jigs and maggots or corn 20 feet below the ice. Perch are being caught just off the bottom in 15 to 40 feet of water with an occasional ling being caught as well. Most perch are small. There is 18 to 20 inches of ice”, according to Humphrey. Scott Arnold from the Bitterroot Valley also had a good day fishing salmon on that reservoir last week.
(Written by Mark Ward – aka the Captain)