By Montana Grant

Posted: February 3, 2019

The ice is plenty thick along the Musselshell. Martinsdale Reservoir is almost completely frozen. This remote central Montana lake offers unique ice fishing adventure. The area around the dam and east end is open water. The west end is solid clear ice. With the constant cold wind that always seems to be blowing in this part of the world, I am surprised the lake is not frozen solid.

We fished near the boat ramp at the west end of the lake. Wearing ice cleats helped us stay upright on the slick ice. The shallow bay off the boat ramp is 8-10 feet deep and seems to hold trout well. We started using a couple existing holes.

My partner this day was Handy Randy! He is a retired PE teacher that has great Handyman skills. We had not fished together so today would see how Handy, Randy was with a fishing rod.

Handy struck first with a nice rainbow that he lost at the hole. I talked with a couple other guys fishing nearby. Only 4 of us braved the ice on this day. They had a couple nice bows on the ice and were enjoying the day. Ice Fishermen are often the friendliest fishermen.

The ice was clear but had some areas covered with snow. I cut my holes on the downwind edge of these shaded areas. Fish tend to hang in these protected spots. My hunch was right, and the trout began to fill the ice.

A bit of worm on a perpendicular jig did the trick. A maggot added on did not hurt. Adding a little gel scent seemed to bring on the bite. Fishing was not as fast as I wanted but patience paid off and all caught limits of HUGE rainbows. We all caught a couple big suckers as well. Several smaller Bows were returned. Jigging seemed to help when using a Swedish Pimple with a sharp single hook.

Handy hooked a HUGE bow at the end of the day that he again lost at the hole. From start to finish we all had a great day. The ducks were quacking, the ice was cracking, and the trout were biting. This remote lake offers a grand view of the Crazy Mountains and is in the middle of nowhere.

Flex your ice muscle along the Musselshell soon!

Montana Grant

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