WATCH THE BIRDS!!!
By Montana Grant

Posted: January 6, 2023

Finding where to fish requires some good experience, luck, and observation. When Captain Ahab was looking for Moby Dick, he would watch for the birds.

The same is true when ice fishing. Look for birds on the ice. Use some binoculars to scan the lake. If you see an eagle, ravens, or other birds on the ice, it’s a sure bet that they are eating fish scraps from someone’s lucky hole.

The other day Handy Randy and I ventured onto Canyon Ferry Lake. Reports are sketchy and lots of icemen are getting skunked, or so they say. The ice is safe but watch out for pressure ridges. Also wear cleats. The ice is super slick.

So, we got to a spot, near Silos, and I scanned for birds. Sure enough, an eagle was parked 80 yards off the shore. Perfect. I go to put on my ice cleats but… I forgot to bring them. Fortunately, I had a ski pole.  We slid out to the Eagle hole and there was evidence of fish blood on the ice.

We opened the holes and saw that the water was just 4 feet deep! It seemed shallow but the blood and birds does not lie. Handy Randy dropped his line in the hole and was quickly onto a fish. The huge trout was fighting hard and soon got off. We were both surprised at how big the fish was. Time to get out the harpoons!

I finally got my 4 rods out and the bite was on. Ahab was waving for us to come and try to catch Moby Dick! Fortunately, Handy Randy had brought his gaff. The fish were 20-25 inches long! Our 8-inch holes were just big enough.

Every rod had bites, and all were loaded with a different jig or bait. The biggest trout preferred the black wooly buggers baited with a worm, maggots, and some scent. I have also been doing well with Pautzke’s Fire Corn. Chartreuse, orange, and pink. There were no light bites or nibbles. The trout simply grabbed the bait, and it was hammer time.

Filleting huge trout is like cleaning a salmon or steelhead. The meat is bright orange and tasty. 5 huge trout make filets for a couple great meals. Time to get out the Salmon cooking recipes.

We fished all day and never saw another angler near us. Everyone was headed up to the Hole in the Wall. When I checked the daily fishing reports, they caught a few perch and trout. Most went fishing, not catching.

We do enjoy catching perch but the monster trout of Canyon Ferry are fun to hook. Be prepared to upscale your gear. The huge trout can break you off in a minute. Sharpen the hooks and set your drags. Make sure to bring an Ahab with a gaff. You will need it!

“She Rises!”

Montana Grant

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