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Henrys Lake freezes over and ice fishing has begun

Living the Wild Life

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Bill Schiess, EastIdahoNews.com

Almost before cold-footers could start dreaming about fishing through the ice, Henrys Lake froze over. The minus 15-degree temperature last Sunday night and early Monday morning not only capped the lake over with two-inches of ice, but froze hundreds of coots and ducks in an icy death grip.

By Tuesday morning some of the ice was over three inches deep along the shore and a few fishermen were fishing the edge where the water was about three feet deep. The eagles, ravens and magpies were having a feast out on the ice.

“This morning I fished off the state park but the water was still very dirty from the weekend winds,” Scott Wetzel of Idaho Falls, told me as he reeled in a fish. “So I moved here to the (Frome) county dock. I have only been here about 10 minutes and this is my third fish.”

A fisherman caught his two fish near the Stump Hole on the north side of the lake while a fisherman off the Cliffs, fished for about an hour without a catching a fish. By Wednesday, the water had cleared a little on the south side of the lake and reports said they were taking fish there.

Reports on Friday indicated that the ice was about five inches deep near the Henrys Lake State Park.

“The ice is not very thick and is extremely slick,” Mike Wilson, owner of Drift Lodge near Henrys, said. “With only two to three inches of ice it is dangerous for people to go out very far still yet. If you are fishing the clear ice you need to wear cleats because the ice is so slick.”

Bill Schiess, EastIdahoNews.com

In 2019, the lake froze over the week before Halloween and a lot of people celebrated Halloween by fishing there. This year is different as this week has been much warmer than last year. It has not been warm enough to melt the ice, but the warmth has kept the ice from building as it did last year.

Staley Springs still has open water out beyond where fishermen were fishing last year. Early ice fishermen have to be very careful because of weak spots or groups of fishermen drilling a lot of holes weaken the ice. Another bitter cold night or two should solidify the ice enough to be safe enough to get out a way from the shore.

Because Henrys Lake is so shallow, less than 20 feet deep, fishing is best the first three weeks after the lake is capped with ice. The fish are still feeding, trying to gain weight for the winter as the ice stops most of the lake from gaining oxygen during the wind and wave action. The thick rotting vegetation uses up most of the oxygen causing the fish to become lethargic and almost go into a hibernation state late in December.

This summer Henrys Lake produced excellent fishing and ice fishing should also produce well once the ice gets thick enough to allow people to move away from the shore. With very little snow on the ground, access to the lake is available and fishermen should be aware of private property and not trespass.

Drift Lodge will be open daily from 8:00 a.m. until 5:00 pm and have already received their ice fishing supplies including bait for the cold-footers. They will also have the up-to-date information about ice conditions and fishing success. They can be reached at (208) 558-0152 or check them online on “Henrys Lake Fishing.”

Please be careful and be safe. The week before the lake froze over, we lost a fisherman from Colorado died while fishing in rough water. Ice fishing can be a lot of fun, but safety must always be employed while doing it.

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