Winter Like the Good Old Days: Captain’s Column 1.12.17
By angelamontana

Posted: January 12, 2017

This is shaping up to be a Montana winter like the good old days.  The snow is even piling up like it did when I first moved to Montana back in 1976. Those winter weather conditions are the way outdoor folks like it. From snowmobilers to alpine skiers, to ice anglers, cold temps and snow make Montana the winter wonderland to have fun in.

The ice fishing reports are now in full swing. In fact Fort Peck Reservoir is now forming ice on the main lake from east to west. Eddie Mindt from Lakeridge Lodging and Bait shop in Fort Peck had this report, “the main lake froze over last week and some guys are taking ATV’s on the lake from Duck Creek to Camel Humps area. I also heard that down the Dry Arm toward Rock Creek that the ice is 10-16 inches thick and a few anglers are catching fish”.  We have also received some photos from anglers that have caught some pretty good size northern pike on from the Fort Peck.  Michelle Diane Turner sent a photo of a northern caught on Crooked Creek, which is located on the west end of the lake. It was 16 pounds and 38 inches. Toby Walrath wrote recently on that Fort Peck can be a magical experience for ice anglers, “Over 50 different kinds of fish swim in Fort Peck’s waters providing opportunity for a smorgasbord for willing ice fishermen including lake trout, northern pike, walleye, and sauger. But the really unique thing about ice fishing Fort Peck is that you might catch any or all of those at trophy size through the same hole.  It’s fairly common for first timers to top 12 pound walleye, 20 pound pike and 25 pound  lakers”. Fort Peck is a few miles away for most ice anglers so planning an ice fishing trip of several days is probably best. Now that the lake’s open water has turned into hard water look for more ice fishing reports to come as the days and weeks go by.

The Helena Reservoirs also are reporting good ice and FWP has begun their weekly reports. Here is this week’s report from Adam Strainer from FWP on Canyon Ferry,   “Rainbow trout continue to be caught around Pond 4, the Silos recreation area, Confederate Bay, and Beaver Creek Bay using various colors of jigs or ice flies, tipped with worms or maggots, in 10 feet of water or less. Yellow perch, as well as a few walleye, are being caught near Hole-in-the-Wall using Hali jigs or Swedish Pimples tipped with maggots, in approximately 45 feet of water.  Ice conditions have been reported at 15 to 18 inches from Pond 4 to the Confederate Bay, 12 to 14 inches in the White Earth area, and 8 to 9 inches throughout the North end”. Holter Reservoir is probably the best reservoir to go perch fishing at least according to FWP Troy Humphrey, “Perch fishing has been very good around Holter Dam, Log Gulch and Departure Point in 30 to 45 feet of water on jigs and maggots or worms. There is about 10 inches of ice around Log Gulch, Departure Point and Holter Ramp and 8 to 10 inches around the dam.  Holter ice conditions can change daily so use caution as wind and warmer temps can make the ice unstable”. Trevor Johnson from Kits Tackle added this report from Holter, “We walked across the lake from Log Gulch to avoid the crowds on the ice.  We found a nice spot all to ourselves and caught over 200 perch and 16 big rainbow trout from 9am to 4pm. We were fishing the perch in 20-25ft on the bottom.  We were using the Kit’s Tackle Micro Glass Minnows in Yellow Perch color tipped with maggots”.

(Written by Mark Ward = aka the Captain)
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