The ice is perfect on Hyalite Lake! This gem is tucked into the mountains near Bozeman and is a consistent producer. Yesterday, the lake was crowded with 3 groups of anglers. Everyone else was a hiker, dog walker, and skier.
It seems like it is always snowing on the Hyalite! Yesterday was no different. With the sun shinning and 40’s in the valley, the lake was windy, cold and snowing. Fortunately, I had my parka and new Stryker bibs on.
The lake has about a foot of snow on top of a foot or more of ice. Footprints become slushy since water seems to float on the ice and under the snow. Walk along beaten down paths. When you clear the snow to cut your holes, a shallow lake of water will form, causing you to ladle out ice chunks often.
Fishing started slow. I was getting some bites but was catching mainly small brook trout and Cutties. After moving a few times, I finally was on the fish. If I am not getting a bite every 5 minutes or so, I am mixing it up. Check your baits, sharpen the hooks, add some scent, or begin jigging.
As the season moves on, the fishing slows. I am catching fewer fish now than a month ago. The water gets darker and colder causing the fish to become less active.
Baits are the same. A mix of maggots and a short piece of worm is the ticket. I do not do well with Pimples, or Rapalas. Perpendicular hanging jigs work the best. Banana style, vertical jigs get bites but less hook ups. Add a drop of glow scent to ice the bait. 15 feet seems to be money. I also cut some holes in 3 feet of water and visit them every half hour or so for quick Brookie hookups. In one shallow hole, I caught 8 brooks in 8 drops.
After an hour of slow bites, the fishing picked up as a front blew through. I was able to get a limit of nice sized Cuts and a dozen or so keeper brookies. The rest went back. My total catch was around 50 trout and one Grayling. This is down from December fishing. The other anglers I talked to, “had some bites and throw back brookies.”
On the way out, I stopped at several open holes and found fast fishing in a few. Ice fishing is when I keep some fish. These great eaters are healthy and delicious. Rarely do I keep any trout during fly fishing or other season treks.
Ice fishing is HOT!
For more Montana Grant, find him cutting holes at www.montanagrantfishing.com.