Billings Great Rockies Sport Show Highlights and Ice Fishing: Captain’s Column
By angelamontana

Posted: January 17, 2013

It was definitely an adventure traveling to Billings last weekend for the Great Rockies Sport Show, which was held at the Metra Park complex. The roads turned into a white-knuckle affair coming and going as eastern Montana was hit with its first big winter storm of the season. The snow and sub zero temperatures made all the roads leading into Billings tough to navigate on Friday. A couple of roads were even closed temporarily on Friday. Some exhibitors that had made plans to travel and arrive on Friday didn’t make it because of the icy conditions.

Despite the travel challenges the three day outdoor show was once again well attended. It is the largest show that Bill Reier, the show’s producer, puts on in Montana. There are hundreds of exhibitors that come as far away as New Zealand, Alaska, and Canada.  The show also gives folks a chance to see what products and organizations are new in Montana.

One of the new organizations that were represented was the Yellowstone Country Bear Hunters Association. The club, which is based out of Cody, Wyoming, is a non-profit organization that was founded by Joe Kondelis and his brother in October of 2010.  “We are dedicated to the protection and development of bears, bear habitat, and bear hunting in the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem including the states of Montana, Idaho, and Wyoming,” said Kondelis.

They intend to work with local, state, and federal governments to de-list the grizzly bear and manage the growing population through hunting seasons in the states of Montana, Idaho and Wyoming. To date, they have over 50 members that pay an annual due of $30. If you are interested in learning more or becoming a member contact Kondelis at

Ice fishing, as you might imagine, is in full swing now that much of the state saw colder temperatures this past week. Down in West Yellowstone at Hebgan Lake, they are preparing for the 2nd annual West Yellowstone/Hebgan Lake Ice Fishing tournament.  This tournament is an official North American circuit qualifier and will be held February 1-3 with cash payouts up to $21,000 depending on the number of participants plus thousands in ice fishing equipment given as prizes.

”We are having workshops and seminars that will take place on Friday evening and Saturday”, said Pam Sveinson, one of the event’s organizers and owner of the Kirkwood Resort and Marina which is located on Hebgan Lake. Then the actual Ice Fishing Contest, which they are billing as World Class Competition will be held Sunday February 3rd. For more information you can go to or call 406-646-7200.

Ice fishing reports out of the Helena area are mixed according to Troy Humphrey from FWP.  Canyon Ferry Reservoir fishing has been slow as has the fishing on Hauser. However, the kokanee salmon are biting on the Helena Regulating Reservoir in 20-25 feet of water on pink ice jigs tipped with maggots. On Holter, the rainbow fishing is very good around Log Gulch while using spawn sacks. All the reservoirs gave good ice at this time.