Report on ice fishing in western Montana for the week of January 23rd

From Montana FWP: Ice fishing is a great way (and we would argue the best way) to get outside and spend the day during the winter. But remember that no ice cream is 100% safe and no fish, no matter the size, is worth your life. Find out for yourself from FWP’s Stacy Schmidt – cancer hunter by night, ice security technician by day – and her team at Lewis and Clark Search and Rescue.

Best Choice

Ashley Lake – The Kokanee bite was great in 60-80 feet of water, with limits reported by several people. The fish are on average about 30-35 cm in size and are caught in the morning on hali jigs and Swedish picks with maggot tips. 6-8 inches of ice has been reported. – Ray Ward, Kalispell

Canyon Ferry Reservoir – A few rainbows are caught 15-22 feet around Duck Creek on pink, brown or black jigs with worms or maggots. Walleye and bass are caught in the middle of the reservoir between Hole in the Wall to Confederate and Duck Creek in 35-45 feet of water using red, black or orange hali jigs or spoons with maggots, worms or perch eyes. A few burbot are caught around Duck Creek by anglers fishing for bass and walleye. Stay away from the pressure ridges at the south end of the reservoir. There is 18-20 inches of ice from the silos to the ponds, 10-15 inches of ice around Duck Creek and the north end has 3-5 inches of ice. – FWP, Helena

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Around western Montana

beaver lake – The ice is about 12-14 inches thick and people are picking up some nice silverfish. – Chancey and Dave’s Fish Camp, Evergreen

Clark Canyon Reservoir – Trout fishing was steady in the early hours at depths of 7 to 12 feet on the south and west ends of the lake respectively. Have a few different baits in your arsenal. Eggs, maggots, night owls and dyed corn on a small tungsten jig are on the menu. The bite seems to decrease significantly in the early afternoon, so get out early. Try to find a sharp drop; usually this indicates that you have found one of the river or source channels. Ling are sporadically caught at depths of 10 to 25 feet. Try sucker meat or nightcrawler after the sun goes down. — Frontier Fisherman, Dillon

Flathead Lake – Recently some pike were caught outside of Somers Bay. You should fish an entire stint in 20 feet of water or less for these slimy predators. Sometimes a hot dog will do too. – Ray Ward, Kalispell

Hauser reservoir – Rainbow trout action was fairly consistent in the Causeway area while using different colored jigs with grubs or caterpillars 6-10ft under the ice and also using streamer flies in the open water. Some larger bass are found in Lake Helena and near the power lines in the Causeway Arm while jigging dead minnows or rattling jigs near the bottom. 12-14 inches of ice has been reported. – FWP, Helena

Holt reservoir – A few rainbows and tadpoles are picked up at the mountain gates while various jigs are used with caterpillars or ice flies in 8-10 foot water depths. Bass fishing was excellent with good numbers found from Log Gulch, Departure Point, the Prairie Dog Town and the BLM boat ramp while using multi colored hali or similar jigs and grubs near the bottom in 30-50ft of water became. 8-10 inches of ice has been reported. – FWP, Helena

Helena Valley Regulatory Reservoir – Kokanee and bass fishing has slowed down recently but some are still found while using hali or swedish pickel ice jigs that end up with red maggots or corn near the bottom in 25-35 feet of water . 12-14 inches of ice has been reported. – FWP, Helena

Georgetown Lake – Anglers have had success catching morning kokanee and trout with jigs loaded with white maggots in about 30 to 45 feet of water. There is currently about 18 inches of ice on Georgetown. – Duane’s Ice Fishing Rentals, Anaconda

See Mary Ronan – The kokanee have been hit or miss but the bass bite has really increased. 35-40 feet water depth was the starting depth for successful anglers. If the fish shy away from halis, switch to something smaller like a tungsten jig or small spoon. A few rainbow trout have also surfaced. – Chancey and Dave’s Fish Camp, Evergreen

Little Bitterroot Lake – There is about 5-6 inches of ice at the south end. Kokanee will bite in 60-80 feet of water. Limits have been reported every now and then, but nothing consistent. Hali jigs and maggot-tipped Swedish picks are the ticket. – Chancey and Dave’s Fish Camp, Evergreen

silver lake – People get a few kokanee bites from white maggots in the morning hours. The ice is about 16 inches thick. Focus on the 30-45 foot area under the ice. – Duane’s Ice Fishing Rentals, Anaconda

Swan Lake – There is about 6 inches of ice on the east side of the lake next to the highway. Some lake trout were chewing. Not much has been said about the Kokanee. The southern end can also be good for Mack, Pike and Perch. If you can find a safe access point, the north end is also good for lakers and rainbow trout. – Chancey and Dave’s Fish Camp, Evergreen

whitefish lake – Visit the State Park for an evening or late night snack. Whitefish were the popular species with the most bites at around 50 feet of water. Some solid lake trout can be found in 60-80 feet of water. – Chancey and Dave’s Fish Camp, Evergreen

Matthew Kiewiet is Editor-in-Chief of Independent Record and The Montana Standard.