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Warm weather posing a challenge for ice fisherman at Henrys Lake

Living the Wild Life

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Slowly, but surely, Henrys Lake is freezing over. Some areas have ice up to four inches thick, enough for some to go ice fishing.

There are also areas on the lake where the ice is four inches thick, and three feet away it’s only half an inch thick. (I would not drive on the lake because one truck has already fallen through).

With all the recent warm weather, especially the night temperatures of 30 to 35 degrees at Henrys, the ice is not growing very fast. Under the ice, currents created by rotting aquatic weeds, springs or even water migrating from warm areas to cold areas, keep the ice in the main lake from forming evenly.

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Bill Schiess |

The safest ice on the lake appears to be at Pintail Bay, the corner near Henrys Lake State Park, the Outlet and some areas near Staley Springs.

Staley Springs is often sketchy because of the different springs coming out from the main spring. The area around the Frome County Boat Dock has been a Russian roulette area this year.

“Last week I was walking on ice from three to four inches thick when I stepped on some snow and went through,” a cold, wet-footed fisherman told me. “Not going back there until it is six inches thick. No fish is worth drowning for.”

With very little snow on the ground at Henrys, access to the Cliffs and the southwest corner is still available as is the State Park and the County Dock on the west side of the lake. With the new regulations allowing fishing all winter long, access points will be hard to come by after snow gets deep enough to stop vehicle travel. The Hatchery may be the only point to access the lake unless snowmachines can be used to access the rest of the lake.

So far this ice season, fishing has been spotty with the best fishing in the morning. Fishing success drops off around 9 to 10:30, depending on the day.

“Thanksgiving week was very good for us from 7 to about 9:30 with two of us catching from 15 to 25 fish,” Mike Bruton from Rigby told me this week. “After 9:30, the fish just seem to quit hitting.”

This week, the fishing seemed to die a little earlier with a short bite happening around noon. On Monday of this week, my grandson and I started fishing at 1 p.m. and finished at 4 with no fish caught and only four light hits. So, I ran up to the Outlet on Tuesday and caught seven fish from 6 until 8, went fishless until 11:15 and picked up two before heading home at noon.

I have heard of some large fish being caught near the Cliffs during the day, but I would be very careful in that area. There was open water about 50 yards out from the Cliffs on Tuesday.

Every experienced Henrys Lake ice fisherman has their own favorite rigs. A tried-and-true fishing set-up is a jig like a Paddlebug or flashy white jig tipped with some kind of bait. Favorite baits are nightcrawlers, sucker meat, minnows or mealworms.

Island Park Reservoir traditionally freezes over in the second week of December and that does not appear like it is going to happen. I am hoping for some cold days and nights before Christmas so Santa can come and visit me and all the kids in his sleigh.

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Bill Schiess |