Today was a fishing day from 10-3. Cabin Fever required me to venture onto the ice. My destination was Hyalite Lake, near Bozeman. Folks give this lake a bad rap. “Too crowded, small fish, fishing is too easy, etc.” I can understand their complaints if they are getting skunked but… I needed a dose of fishing fun!
Hyalite is fishing well! There, I said it. Now I know that I will get canceled by the guys that routinely get skunked or feel that this lake is supposed to be secret. If you are waiting for the ice or fishing to get better, you are missing the boat. Fishing is fun, ice is thick, and no crowds.
Most fishermen are isolated in shanties. They drill a couple holes and spend the day. Their setups are in areas that I normally would not fish. They are warm and cozy. Basically, they are fishing a couple holes in a space the size of their shanty. If there are more than one fisherman, rods and rigs are awful close. None of the Shanty fishermen I spoke with were hooking up.
I fished in quiet solitude. Only a few hikers tromped by and some Ravens squawked at me. I set up and caught fish within 15 minutes. The bite stopped between 1-2. I then went to glow jigs and charged them up with a bright flashlight. The bite was back on.
Maggots and inch long pieces of worms on a jig was the trick. I also added a drop of glow, salmon fish attractor gel. The fish were a foot or so off the bottom. I drilled several satellite holes but only one produced. It was 5 feet off the bank in 3-4 foot of water.
Bites were light! If I did not have spring bobbers on my longer rods, I would not have seen the bites, or set the hook quickly enough. There are always a few fish that grab the bait and want to drag the rod and reel into the hole, but most fish were super light biters.
I also iced a 15-inch Brook and a 22-inch Cuttie today! The longer rods and reels with good drags were important in landing them. My limit of 20 brooks and 5 cuts was filled. I threw back over 30 other fish to get to the limit. Once I had 5 BIG cuts, it was hard to throw back 20 inchers but that is the rules. Now I know some fishermen will argue that I kept too many fish. This is pretty much the only time that I keep fish during the year. Oh, and they are delicious!
This fishery is perfect for ice fishing. It is stocked and accessible. The Brooks are stream born, and the Cuts are a result of small fish stocked each year. If you snooze, you lose!
Jig. Jig, Thump, Thump!
For more Montana Grant, catch him at www.montanagrantfishing.com.