With February, comes winter

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Montana residents who really don’t engage in winter sports have been enjoying the mild winter weather, while those of us who relish the snow and cold have been quite disappointed so far. Especially for ice anglers, the slow pace of ice growth on local lakes has been agonizingly frustrating, but it appears that, as we enter February, we may finally be making up for the lost “ground.”

Organizers of ice fishing tournaments here in Region 1, are breathing a little easier as single-digit temperatures have descended.

Region 1 hosts more ice fishing tournaments than the rest of the state combined every year. There are eight ice fishing tournaments scheduled for the month of February alone, most of which should go off without a hitch, although some may see restrictions on motorized travel or where anglers can fish.

Let’s look at some of these upcoming events. As always, I caution that no ice should be considered safe until you have verified it for yourself, especially this year!

First off, this Saturday, is the second in the three-event Perch Assault series on the Middle/Lower Thompson Lakes, and the entry deadline is at TODAY, at 6 p.m. Thursday at Snappy Sport Senter. This series, founded in 2006, is one of the longest running, competitive, team ice fishing events in the U.S. Some of the biggest cash purses and tons of door prizes are hallmarks of this event. Check it out at perchassault.com or by calling Chancy at 406-314-8024.

Another traditional event in February is the month long Perch Pounder event, hosted by the Scoreboard Pub in Kalispell, unique in that it allows anglers to fish any water in Region 1 from Feb. 1-23. It includes weekly and overall awards and a huge fish fry on the last day. The current Montana state record perch was caught by Josh Emmert during the 2006 event! More information by calling 406-261-6445.

One of the largest “derby” style events is next, the Snappy’s Lake Mary Ronan derby Feb. 16, which awards the biggest fish in multiple categories. This event sees hundreds of anglers and is family friendly with plenty of prizes for the kiddos! Contact Snappy’s at 406-257-7525 for respective information.

Other great kids events include the Ryan Wagner Memorial Derby held at Murphy Lake Feb. 9, a well-organized event that supports a great cause. Call 406-882-6018 for more info. Also, the Canyon Kids Derby takes place on Feb. 23 at Lion Lake in Hungry Horse, 406-261-1219.

A newer event is the Bull Lake Derby up in Troy, and operated out of the Halfway House Bar and Grill. This is primarily a big pike event, and honestly offers some very good fishing, plenty of parking, easy access and a great time! The new date for this event is Feb. 9-10.

Finishing up the month is the Wild West Panfish Trail event, another great series promoted by Chancy Jeschke, Feb. 23. This series sees both ice and open water tournaments across the valley, with this one going out of Upper Thompson Lake. A lot of anglers across Region 1 are discovering how much fun fishing for crappie, sunfish and perch can be, especially through the ice, and offers some of the finest table fare. For more informationm call Chancy at 314-8024 or stop in at Snappy’s to register.

There is an ice fishing event for almost everyone in February, and one constant through these events is that almost every one of them will offer free rods for kids, donated by the Flathead Chapter of Walleyes Unlimited of Montana.

Oh, and all will see eager anglers, enjoying a great outdoors experience!

Hello February, we’re glad to see you!

— Howe is the owner/outfitter at Howe’s Fishing, A Able and Mo Fisch Charters. Call 406-257-5214 or at www.howesfishing.com

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