Early perch ice fishing on Stillwater Lake

Print Article

Last week I ice fished on Lower Stillwater Lake after hearing reports of several inches of “pretty good” ice.

I had forgotten to put my hand auger in the truck. Luckily my fishing buddy brought his battery-powered StrikeMaster.

The lake was covered with nearly 10 inches of ice. No way could my “experienced” shoulders have drilled one hole, much less a dozen.

We caught perch in several spots. Not huge, but they had sides big enough for fresh fish tacos.

First ice is generally good for catching perch. Here’s three tips for novice ice perchers:

• Put less bait on your hooks. More often than not, a half-inch piece of mealworm or waxworm will out-fish a whole worm.

If you don’t believe me, try both ways on the same lures, alternating holes and depths, so there’s at least some science in your testing.

• Don’t always put your bait within a foot of the bottom. Sometimes perch do hang out in open water.

Veteran perchers have caught fish halfway down in 30 feet of water.

• Perch may bite any time of day, but first light and last hour of daylight seem to be the most consistent.

If the perch aren’t biting late one afternoon, try the same spot the next morning. And vice versa.

Some days the noon bite can be the best of the day!

Always check the condition of the ice.

Good luck, stay safe, and Merry Christmas!

Jerry Smalley’s Fishful Thinking column appears weekly in the Hungry Horse News.

Print Article

Read More Outdoors

Finally some ice

January 15, 2020 at 7:26 am | Hungry Horse News Big news among ice fishers this winter is lack of ice due to mild temperatures. Ice fishing has been pretty much confined to shallow lakes and ponds, many with less than 6 inches of ice cover. The ...


Read More

Hunters and landowners give FWP an earful on game

January 08, 2020 at 7:45 am | Hungry Horse News Hunters and landowners gave Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks biologists and earful last week during a hearing on proposed changes to the upcoming hunting season. The changes themselves aren’t all th...


Read More

Artist-Wilderness connection applications now available

January 08, 2020 at 7:44 am | Lake County Leader Professional artists of all disciplines are once again being invited to spend one to two weeks in a remote part of the Bob Marshall and Great Bear Wilderness areas as part of the 17th year of the Art...


Read More

Wind on the Rez

January 08, 2020 at 7:33 am | Hungry Horse News One day last week I checked the Wunderground app to see how strong the wind was blowing in Babb. 42 mph. Forty years ago, if we decided to go ice fishing on the rez, we couldn’t check the ‘Net. We...


Read More

Contact Us

(406) 892-2151
PO BOX 189, 926 Nucleus Avenue
Columbia Falls, MT 59912

©2020 Hungry Horse News Terms of Use Privacy Policy