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There’s still ice on Jackson Lake and plenty of fish to be caught

Living the Wild Life

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Bill Schiess,

As my lure, baited with a minnow, reached the bottom of the shallows of Jackson Lake, it got hit like a freight train. I could tell by the weight of my lure that the bait was gone as Gary, one of my fishing partner responded, “just missed one.”

“Got one,” Wayne, my quiet other partner, said matter of factly as he battled an 18 inch lake trout. Gary helped Wayne guide the nice fish into the 10-inch hole through the more than three feet of ice as I rebaited my lure. Just as Wayne’s fish was on the snow, I was hooked up and was able to slide a 21-inch fish out of my hole just as Gary got there to assist.

That was the end of the morning bite as we spent the next four hours landing three more fish but having multiple chances from short hits. The fish were tough to get up through the hole as they would come loose when they would bang against the ice.

“We got here a little late as the best fishing on Jackson is from 7:00 to 10:00 each morning,” said Wayne, the most experienced Jackson Lake fisherman of the three of us. “We just got here at the tail end of the bite when we started after 10:00 this morning.”

The trip from Rexburg to the lake, including time to stop and purchase our $14.00 one day fishing permit took us over three hours. It was still a minus 7 degrees but the parking lot at Colter’s Bay was full of rigs, mostly trucks and trailers for snowmobiles that were the preferred travel for the “dyed in the wool” cold-footers that go after the big lake trout on the lake.

Adding to our slowness, the ice was about 37 inches thick under 16 inches of packed snow. So to get the holes down to the water we had to remove the snow and then the slush created by the drilling before we could break through the last inch of ice.

We found the 5/8 ounce glow-in-the-dark blue jigs with a piece of sucker meat or a small bullhead (sculpin) the best set-up for Jackson Lake lakers. Second best was the chartreuse glow jigs baited with the same bait that generated a lot of short hits.

Last Tuesday was the perfect day to be on the lake except I forgot the sun screen and lip balm to protect my fragile skin and lips, not only from the sun but from the reflection from the bright snow. Even though I kept my back toward the sun most of the day, I still got sun-kissed.

The excitement from several years ago when a fox tried to steal our fish was missing as the fox population around Colter Bay have been “relocated” from the area. We did have to hide our fish from a marauding Bald eagle that made some low flying sorties over us. The beautiful snow covered mountains added to the enjoyment of being with friends trying to locate and wrestle with one of the large fish produced by the lake.

We did not find one of those 15 to 25 pound lakers that some others have found and the catching was a little slow, but we are already looking for a day we can slip off to Jackson again. But this time we will be a little more prepared with sun screen and a few other things to make the aftermath of the experience be more comfortable.