By Montana Grant

Posted: February 16, 2023

The best part about Winter, if you don’t ski, is ice fishing. Solitude on the frigid ice is overrated but Ice Fishing with Brother Icemen is the best! Finding friends to venture atop a frozen lake is hard to do. No all fishermen have the patience or desire to fish a 6–12-inch hole.

There is something magical about sliding a huge fish through a small ice hole. Sadly, many ice fishermen spend more time fishing without catching. On Canyon Ferry, the other day, a girl on a wheeler cruised by to see why we were hooking up. Her group had been on the ice for 3 days without a bite.

The Montana Grant Icemen group is growing. So far this year “Handy Randy” has been great company. My daughter “Jiggy Jessie” and grandson CC have been filling the freezer. Recently a new Icemen has stepped up to join our ranks.

“Meat Stick Dave” has recently moved nearby and was looking for fishing therapy on the ice. He brought a bundle of Deemo’s meat sticks as a snack. Hence his nickname. Deemo’s is a meat store in Ennis that sells great meat and superb jerky. Their jerky may be the best I have ever had.

Anyway, we trekked onto Canyon Ferry for a Rainbow fish fest. The trout are in shallow water. The area we fished had over 24 inches of ice atop 3 1/2 foot of water. Our battery powered augers had to work hard to hit the wet stuff. We should have brought more batteries. My first bite happened within a few minutes.

These bows are big and strong but prefer small maggot covered baits. You may need a small gaff to pull them out of the hole. The bows are consistently over 20 inches. Our biggest to date was 26 inches. You can fish 6 rods at the Ferry. It’s a good idea to spread out the holes a bit to get the attention of cruising fish. The bites come in spurts. If you miss a hit, don’t reel in. Continue to lightly jig and hang on. Make sure that your drag is set.

It’s also important to not scare the fish. Set up on snow covered or cloudy ice. Fish facing the sun to not cast a moving shadow. These bows spook easy in shallow water. Don’t bang and jump around. Save your dance moves for somewhere else.

Handy Randy managed to hook two of the smallest rainbows I have seen this Winter. The petite 9 inchers gave a good bite and fight. Meat Stick scored a huge 22 incher with amazing colors. This great fish broke the ice after a long time of not fishing.

All of us old Farts have had to overcome health challenges in recent years. Our love of the outdoors and sport keeps us forging ahead. It’s nice to have some company, just in case we slip. We solve all of the world’s problems, complain about our aches and pains, and tell fishing and hunting stories.

Us Baby Boomers love to play together. Fishing and hunting are sports that keep us moving and motivated. It’s hard to find good outdoor buddies. Once you find some, keep them on the line and enjoy every outing.

Icemen, and Icewomen Rule!

Montana Grant

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