Friday, April 23, 2021

Welcome to hard water season

| December 10, 2020 12:00 AM

Ice fishing is here!

For folks that know me well, they know that I live to ice fish! I look forward to (obsess about?) ice fishing every year more than any other outdoor activity I pursue.

Not a day goes by from September to May where I don’t think about it, and on most warm summer days, I think about ice fishing to cool me down. Messed up, I know…

Many of our local lakes in the Flathead have skimmed over, and several are already seeing a LOT of walk out traffic. Heck, the first Perch Assault tournament is THIS weekend on Smith Lake, and the conditions are looking great out there with a REPORTED five to six inches of good solid ice already.

If you have never heard of the event, go to the website, and check it out, and if you want in, you need to get to Snappy Sport Senter by TONIGHT to get signed up.

Ice fishing is a winter sport the entire family can enjoy, and typically, the more the merrier!

It can be an excellent social activity that can be entered into for very little cost and it opens up a lake's best fishing spots to anyone willing to walk to them.

Obviously dressing the part is important, and knowing what to look for in safe ice is as well, but literally anyone can go ice fishing!

Grab any fishing rod you would use in the summer, a couple of jigs or hooks and something to poke a hole in the ice and you are good to go!

On the opposite end of the spectrum, there are the hardcore ice anglers, and the gadget masters that appreciate items that represent the pinnacle of forward thinking in composite materials, electronic gadgets and high- tech apparel.

Fishing rods made of composite materials that react to a fighting fish exactly like their 7-foot open water rods do (and at nearly the same price), underwater sonar products that show a high resolution, video like image of anything that swims and clothing that would thrive in the most extreme Arctic environments.

Lithium batteries and composite auger bits have made drilling a hole in the ice child’s play, with powered eight-inch ice augers weighing in at under 10 pounds.

Portable, easy set up ice shacks that can be heated with a propane heater and provide a base of operations to explore from.

Whatever end of the spectrum you fall into, ice fishing tends to be one of those activities where 95% of the people that do it welcome beginners into the sport and will stop what they are doing to help out a beginner, or to talk tech.

Of course, there are always people who just do it to get away from everything and everyone, and you won’t get two words out of them, but I promise, they are the exception rather than the norm!

With conditions shaping up on our local lakes, it won’t be long until all our local lakes are frozen and fishable.

Trout, perch, kokanee salmon, pike, bass and whitefish will all be flopping on the ice before the New Year!

If you want in on the action, visit any of our local sporting goods stores and you will get pointed in the right direction, or better yet, come on out with us here at Howe's Fishing for a fully guided introduction to what I live for all year, every year.

But I’ll warn you, you just might become as obsessed as I am!

I’ll see you on the HARD water!

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