My Favorite Ice Fishing Spots

My Favorite Ice Fishing Spots

Once we've finally had enough cold weather that the ice has set up, we can get out there and fish. While many people think I am crazy for wanting to fish during the winter, it is actually a fun sport that just about anyone can do (an ice hut will only cost you a couple hundred dollars and is well worth the expense). Here are my favorite places to head out when the water sets up.

Deadman’s Basin

Just over an hour north of here is a great reservoir with some fantastic fishing. While the best time to get on the ice has passed (the kokanee salmon run from about Thanksgiving to mid-December) you can still get out there and catch some amazing fish. The Montana state record Tiger Musky was pulled out of Deadman’s a few years ago. Imagine hauling a 38 pound fish out through a hole in the ice.

Cooney Reservoir

During the summer Cooney is loaded with boats and water skiers. During the winter people flock to the area to pull up walleye and trout. If you have never fished at Cooney before, talk to those who have. You have to be in the right area and have the right kind of jig or bait to really be able to catch a lot of fish.

Tongue River Reservoir

Heading east of Billings you get some special treatment. You can have 6 lines in the water at all times. So if you go to the Tong River Reservoir to ice fish for some of the enormous Northern Pike or delicious Crappies that live there, bring plenty of tip-ups and a bucket of minnows.

West Rosebud Lake

Most people hit up the mountain lakes during the summer when the weather is wonderful. But, West Rosebud is a great place to go when it’s frozen because the trout are ravenous. There is only one problem: the wind. This lake, situated in the valley below Mystic Lake, has some of the worst wind you can imagine, so you absolutely need an ice hut to stay warm.

Riverfront Park

Sometimes you just need to get out and do some fishing, but you don’t have time to drive an hour or two. No worries, we have a great little pond on the south side of Billings, Lake Josephine, despite its small size, is home to some enormous fish. To combat the bluegill population, the Fish Wildlife and Parks has stocked the area with Tiger Muskies. These fish are huge and they fight hard. You can also pull out catfish, bluegills, sunfish, carp, and a bunch of other species.

10 years ago I would take every chance I could to get out and go ice climbing, skiing, or some other more extreme sport. Every time I would go out, a friend and I would complain about how much work it was and how we need to take up a gentleman’s sport like ice fishing. I suppose that has now happened. Ice fishing, while still isn’t for the faint of heart, is much easier than ice climbing. As an added bonus, you get to bring home dinner.

Where do you ice fish?

by Scott Sery
Scott is a writer, outdoor enthusiast, beer snob, and woodworker. When he is not out exploring all of the wonders around Billings, he loves to sit down for a frosty brew at one of the many great breweries we have available to us. You can read about most of his adventures, and many of the fine brews he has sipped right here. Find out more about Scott at