Montana is also known as BIG FISH COUNTRY! There are places where the fish grow so big that we call them PIGS!
Canyon Ferry is one of these places for BIG TROUT! Rainbows grow to a consistently large size. They are fat, healthy, strong, and tasty. Many of the rainbows reach over 20 inches in just a few years. Other anglers may call them Lunkers, Hawgs, Jumbos. Monsters, or Brooders. We just call them Big Fat PIGS!
Meatstick Dave, Handy Randy, and I went out the other day to see if the ice was strong enough for us to visit Pig City. Pretty much any shoreline of the lake, within 50 yards, is home to Big Pigs. Our trip was by Silos, where the ice is just thick enough to hold Big Boy Icemen. At 4-5 inches, the ice was talking and cracking but safe, even with the sounds.
No one else was at Pig City. We saw some ice skaters in the distance and a couple hikers. When we cut our holes, the water was only 5 feet deep. Within a few minutes, Handy Randy was fighting the first Pig of the day.
We used glow jigs tipped with a worm and maggot. Nothing fancy. Our rods were just sitting in the holders, no jigging required. Our baits were a foot off the bottom.
Big Pigs fight hard! They will also take your rods if you spread them out too far. You can fish 6 rods, when ice fishing Canyon Ferry. We were perpendicular from the shore and maybe 20-yard spreads. The ice has no snow and is slick. Traction on your boots is required.
Several times, the Pigs were about to drag our rods into the 8-inch auger holes. Fortunately, we were quick. Meatstick was not so lucky. I looked over and saw his new custom rod flip and plop into the hole. He was just a few feet away but never saw the bite. We looked down at the hole and could see his new rod 5 feet down. I grabbed some cord and tied it to a pair of nail clippers. The handle folded out like a hook. I dropped it into the hole and hooked his rod. With a slow steady pull the rod was saved. The fish must have gotten away.
Montana Grant was not having his best day. Old tippet broke in the jaws of the Big Pigs, and I lost several fish, along with my lures. Meatstick loaned me some new florocarbon 8 lb. tipped that I swapped out on all 6 rods. Now the Pigs were on the ice!
Big Pigs are huge and make salmon sized filets. A larger filet knife is needed to best skin and trim the meat. You can also leave the scaled skin on if you plan to grill them. Pin bones can be removed using a pair of needle nosed pliers.
I have also cut the fish into chunks for fish chowder or just smaller fry pieces. Poaching the fish allows you to make fish cakes. You can smoke the fish and make a wonderful trout/cheese spread.
At the end of the day, we crawled into my truck for the ride home. The heated seats helped a lot. Our backs were sore.
Pig Fishing is hard work and something to squeal about!