Henry’s Lake Ice Fishing by Brad Camphouse of The Group Real Estate
While I am not selling Real Estate for The Group Real Estate and Copper Creek Homes in Idaho Falls Idaho, as The Bearded Realtor. I love to go out in the great out doors to hunt and fish. Winter is a good time to cuddle up on the couch with hot cocoa and a good book. It’s also a good time to get outside, put on nature’s makeup (i.e. rosy cheeks and chapped lips) and go adventuring — even if that means walking on water. We’re talking about ice fishing. With the advent of modern equipment such as power augers, fish finders and heated shelters, ice fishing has changed from a means of survival to a recreational sport. So dress warm, grab a friend and participate in this time-honored tradition of standing over a small hole in the middle of a frozen lake with a fishing pole, waiting to catch the next big thing. This weekend myself and a few of the guys from the office decided to take a trip up to the blue ribbon water of Henry’s Lake. Henry’s lake is located just south west of the West entrance of Yellowstone National Park., Montana. It is still in Idaho and I have heard of some people traveling as far away as from Minnesota to come fish this Ice. For ice fishing beginners, here are a few more things you should know before you drop that line. Many fisherman have developed an ice fishing experience with all the bells and whistles which are nice, but unnecessary. The bare necessities are going to be… Fishing license: Because the law. Fishing license regulations and costs vary from state to state, so consult your state’s fishing policies and make sure you bring your license with you to the lake. One-day passes are available, and be sure to check for first-timer discounts. Ice fishing rod: An ice fishing pole is shorter than a normal fishing pole because there is no need to cast. Rather, you just drop your line into the hole. Along with your rod you are going to need tackle. Extra line, hooks, sinkers and whatever bait you are going to be using. This will change with the fish you are attempting to target. For instance, on Henry’s lake I like to use a spoon with some kind of stink bait. The spoon is shiny so its main purpose is to gain the attention of the fish once the fish comes closer to the bait he can then smell the night crawler, mill worm or corn that is on the hook. These things combined with the occasional jig motion from the angler tend to be the best route in my experience at Henry’s lake. Auger: To bore a hole through the ice, you will need on of these corkscrew like augers. Scoop: to keep the hole free of ice and help measure ice thickness. Lots of people use these skimmers. Bucket: used for carrying all of the gear and then it can be flipped over and used for a chair. Sled: to carry any heavier gear, coolers and drinks across the ice. Pliers: to remove fish hooks from the mouth of the fish. There are many types of pliers used for this because if the fish takes the bait and eats it then you will need a type of needle nose to reach down inside of the gut of the fish. Try your best to not rip the gills and kill the fish. There is a 2 fish limit on Henry’s lake but most days you can catch many more and release them.
Once you have your gear ready then is the time to start down another checklist first of all is to check the thickness of the ice in order to remain safe. Falling through the ice is probably one of the biggest fears of people that are new to ice fishing. Get familiar with the lake and its currents. And obviously, it’s extremely important to know how thick the ice is before heading out. Avoid driving on the ice if possible, but if you are going to roll out there, the DNR has a list of recommended thinness for every type of vehicle. If the ice is under 4 inches it is recommended to stay off. I know that 2 inches can hold a person but it is not safe. Once it is 4 inches ice fishing or other activities on foot are okay. 5 to 7 inches will hold a snowmobile or an ATV when needed. 8 to 12 inches can hold a car or small pickup and 12 to 15 inches will hold a medium truck. Many factors other than the thinness can cause ice to be unsafe. White ice or snow ice is only about half as strong as clear ice. A good rule of thumb is to double the about thickness guidelines when traveling on white ice.
White noise is okay. Weather walking, driving or just sitting on the lake, the ice will make cracking noises that sound like aliens or whales moaning. It can become unnerving, but usually harmless. Revisit the safety the DNR recommended thickness list if you are anxious about it.
Make sure you are paying attention to your feet. You’ll want to dress very warm, especially if you don’t have an ice house to shelter you from the elements. Your feet will be the first to get cold, because they are — you know — standing on ice all day. Foot warmers, wool socks are a must as well as waterproof winter boots. If you’re going to invest in some more serious gear, ice cleats will help you keep your balance while walking on the ice.
In Minnesota alone, there are about 3.8 million acres of fish-able water, whether its frozen or not. And many Upper Mid-Westerners will never back down from an opportunity to fish, even when temperatures dip well below zero. If you’re not sure about where the fish are biting, follow the pack. The locals set up camp on areas of the lake where the fish are biting, so look for a grouping of ice houses and get in close — but not too close. You can use this practice anywhere, including Henry’s lake. There is a fish hatchery that has a rule. NO FISHING within 100 yards of where the fish are planted. The reason for this is because the fish tend to gather around this area. When we were ice fishing this weekend you could see this perimeter because that is where all the ice huts were. Therefor that’s where we set up shop. Ice fishing is fun but can be dangerous so please be safe out there and know your surroundings.