By Montana Grant

Posted: February 4, 2021

Big Ed Thomes has lived in Montana a long time. He knows the harshness of winter but has never ice fished. Years ago, Big Ed delivered newspapers in central Montana, near Vaughn. He remembers one winter when it was so cold that his car tires were flat on one side and would not round out. The thermometer read -63 degrees.

Big Ed knows cold! It was time to show him some Hot fishing! I took him to Hyalite Lake, near Bozeman, for a day of lip ripping, drag screaming, rod bending fun!

We hit the lake from the South end and marched toward the Glory Hole. Winter was not going to be kind. The wind was blowing snow and cold. Yes, it was Damn Cold! Real Icemen would not be deterred from our fishing mission.

Big Ed and his wife Karen are co-realtors for Berkshire Hathaway Realtors, in Belgrade. Selling homes and taking great photos is their business. Big Ed also plays guitar in some local bands. The Hyalite cold reception, singing winds, and deep snow meant that success was going to be a BIG challenge.

Big Ed is no Wussy. We managed to cut some ice holes around a point and out of the wind. We sat on our buckets waiting for the bite. It came slowly but surely. Big Ed first tackled a few feisty and fat Brook trout. He missed a few, lost a few, and caught a few more. His luck was good.

When the fishing slowed, I would say”15 more minutes!” Like clockwork, the fish would tease us with a few more bites. Finally, Big Ed set the hook into a BIG FISH! Despite the blowing snow, freezing cold, and hyperthermic conditions, he held on tight. The massive fish pulled out drag and bend the long rod to the max. I held onto his waist so he would not get dragged into the ice hole.

After a great battle, he managed to drag a massive Cutthroat trout out form the hole. This was the first Cutthroat trout Big Ed had ever tangled with. Big Ed lived up to his name with a Big trout.

Ice fishing is pure Montana. Sure, many people ski, snowboard, sled, and snowmobile. They carry a hot totty Thermos and are always close to a lounge or warm up center. When they head home, they only take memories with them, along with some stinky socks and snowsuits. Icemen stay warm catching fish.

Icemen feed their families. Limits of hard earned, fresh, and healthy fish are a great treat. The fat trout we caught will serve to warm us up for many meals to come. Our toes may be chilly, our lips and nose may be chapped, but our hearts are warm, and our bellies are full.

Big Ed will be back for another fun day of fishing fun! Well done ICEMAN!

Montana Grant

For more Montana Grant, find him standing on a frozen Montana lake at

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