Popular Ice Fishing Lakes In Montana
Guide to favorite fish species at top ice fishing lakes in the state.
The best ice fishing lakes in MT include Fort Peck Lake, Georgetown Lake and Flathead Lake. The most popular species through the ice, across the state, include trout, perch and pike. See a list of lakes and species below.
Ice fishing is as basic as fishing gets. During winter, it is popular here in the state. Aside from the tools one uses to create a hole in the ice, all other gear is very basic. A simple rod, reel, line and hook or lure is all you need. Lures, live bait and prepared bait are options, depending on the fish species in the lake or pond.
Montana's winter season brings an exciting opportunity for anglers to experience the thrill of ice fishing. While the state is renowned for its excellent open-water fishing, ice fishing allows anglers to access fish in a whole new way. Several fish species can be targeted during the ice fishing season in Montana, including yellow perch, rainbow trout, brown trout, walleye, northern pike, and lake trout.
Yellow perch are a popular target for ice anglers in Montana. They can be found in many lakes and reservoirs throughout the state, offering a delicious meal and exciting fishing action. Rainbow trout and brown trout can also be caught through the ice in certain lakes and reservoirs, providing an opportunity for anglers to test their skills.
When it comes to methods, ice anglers in Montana often use tip-ups, jigging rods, and ice fishing shelters. Tip-ups are set up over holes drilled in the ice, with a baited hook suspended at a specific depth. Jigging rods allow anglers to actively jig or bounce lures to attract fish. Ice fishing shelters, commonly known as ice shacks or ice huts, provide protection from the elements and can enhance the overall ice fishing experience.
Safety is of utmost importance when participating in ice fishing. Montana's winters can bring cold temperatures and variable ice conditions. It is crucial to always check ice thickness before venturing onto a frozen body of water and to wear appropriate clothing and footwear to stay warm. Ice picks, a life jacket, and a rope are essential safety equipment to have on hand. Anglers should also fish with a buddy and communicate their plans and location with others.
Montana's ice fishing season typically runs from December through February, depending on ice conditions. However, it is essential to monitor local weather conditions and consult ice thickness reports before heading out onto the ice. Always exercise caution and follow safety guidelines to ensure a safe and enjoyable ice fishing experience.
Ice fishing in Montana provides a unique opportunity to explore the state's winter landscapes while pursuing a variety of fish species. It is a popular pastime that brings together family and friends, offering the chance to create lasting memories on the ice. With proper preparation, equipment, and safety precautions, anglers can enjoy the excitement and camaraderie of ice fishing in Montana.
Top Ice Fishing Lakes & Species
There are numerous places to go ice fishing in the state. Here are a list of some of the proven, best destinations.
Deadmans Basin Reservoir
Willow Creek Reservoir
Click the images for species details.
This is a great way to get the kids to go outdoors in winter, connect with nature and learn to fish. The first consideration when attempting to go ice fishing, is safety. Make sure the ice is safe, and that you are prepared should an accident occur. Dress to stay warm - it's better to remove extra jackets than be cold and miserable. Be aware that the ice can be slippery, and falls can be dangerous.
Ice Fishing Tips & Techniques Video
Click here for ice fishing basics, including details on finding the best place to fish, tips for cutting a hole, basic tackle, bait, lures, depths to fish, safety, shanty's, tents and huts.
Best ice fishing method for crappie, bluegill, perch and sunfish
Horizontal jigs and spoon-type baits are the go-to baits for crappie, either tipped with a minnow, wax worm or prepared baits often triggers more bites. Jigs work better close to the bottom, spoons tend to work better higher in the water column. If options allow, 15 to 30 feet is the most common depth. Adjust as necessary. See additional info on ice fishing for crappie, perch and sunfish.
Best ice fishing method for walleye
Four basic lures are all you need. Ice jigs are minnow shaped with a tail that causes them to fall in a circular patter. Drop them to the desired depth (often to the bottom), then lift the bait a few feet to let it fall on slack line. Spoons: Metal slabs in chrome or a wide array of colors are used to jig up-and-down mimicking a dying baitfish. Lipless crankbaits: Fish like a spoon. Jigs: Use slightly larger jigs than for crappie, preferably with a flashing blade attached. Tip with live bait and let it sit, up a ways from the bottom typically 1 to 3 feet. A general tip is to always keep your bait off the bottom, one to 5 feet is an ideal place to start. Additional information about ice fishing for walleye.
Best ice fishing method for trout
Trout focus on small forage fish in winter, so baits that flash silver - jigs or spoons, do well in attracting trout. Dual rods, where legal, are very effective. One rod with a jig/live bait set up on a tip-up, the second with a spoon fished up and down pretty aggressively. See more detail about ice fishing for trout.
Best ice fishing method for pike and musky
Live bait, shiners and sunfish, are a great way to attract these big fellahs, assuming local law allows their use. Heavier line, steel leaders, bigger hooks and stronger tip-ups are in order. See more information on ice fishing for pike and musky.
Click here for a Montana Fishing License.
States with notable ice fishing.