Henrys Lake froze over November 20, just in time for the Thanksgiving holiday which has become a tradition for families to celebrate with an ice fishing trip.
“The plan is to camp out with the boys on the ice Wednesday night,” Lucas Ingram of Rexburg said after hearing it had frozen over. “We will fish Wednesday night and early Thursday.”
This has become a tradition for the Ingram family over the last few years as they will fish and then head back to Rexburg for the family Thanksgiving dinner. But many other fishermen will have enjoyed the fishing before the Ingram’s get there as the morning after the lake froze over, ice fishermen dotted the shallows around its edge on ice two inches thick.
“People were fishing at Staley’s, County, State, Pintail Point and one group at the hatchery on Saturday morning,” Damon Keen, the Henrys Lake Hatchery Manager, said. “Ice is thin, especially where the snow was insulating it. Folks did not venture out too far due to ice conditions.”
This week several large fish including brook trout over 20 inches showed up and gave the fishermen around the Frome County Boat Dock area and Staley Springs some long awaited excitement.
With Henrys Lake freezing over early last week, the west side of the famed lake’s ice was four and a half inches thick in some places by Monday. With the cold weather ahead, by the holiday weekend most of the lake should have about six inches of ice covering it.
With limited access to Henrys due to private property, snow blocked roads and heavy snows predicted, fishermen will have to be careful to find parking on the busy days. Last year trespassing and parking created problems during the early ice fishing.
Staley Springs, County Boat Dock and the Hatchery areas are the most popular fishing areas for the cold-footers. Last year all areas were good fishing during November and early December, but with thick ice and up to two feet of snow covering the lake, fishing became tough for most fishermen on New Year’s Day. The ice and snow blocks out the sunlight and starts the rotting of the weeds which depletes the dissolved oxygen in the water. As the dissolved oxygen drops the activity of the fish slows down.
Early morning is usually the best fishing as activity on the ice and sunlight move the fish into the weeds and away from groups of fishermen. Most jigs tipped with bait or just bait, like nightcrawlers, minnows or sucker meat, can be successful for the early season fishermen.
As fishermen have learned from ice fishing Henrys in the past; the combination of shallow water, big fish and savage hits are hard on tackle. Not only are lures lost, but rods are also quickly pulled down a hole as the fish race to another part of the lake with the broken heart of the fishermen following.
Care should be taken while on Henrys Lake as ice is never totally safe. Thin ice may be covered up by drifting snow or caused by warm spring areas. Schools of fish and rotting weeds also create thin ice from the bottom. Snowmobilers should be aware that some areas around the lake never freeze solid some winters.
If you are looking for a fun outing; ice fishing Henrys Lake can be one. Just be careful and park where it is legal to park.
Natalia Hepworth, EastIdahoNews.com
Bill Schiess, EastIdahoNews.com