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Henrys Lake Ice Fishing

By Bill Schiess

Ice fishermen may be the craziest people in the world.  Some are so careless they could be classified as suicidal.  Early in the ice season some are like bull elk during the rut; all want with no caution.  They dream all summer of ice forming on area lakes so they can drill holes in two inches of ice, freeze they buns off for hours to fool a fish whose brain is smaller than a pencil eraser.

And so it is. Henrys Lake is usually the first lake to freeze over in the Yellowstone Teton territory which usually happens between the first of November and Thanksgiving.  Ice fishermen from Utah, Idaho and Montana watch weather patterns, but many plan on spending some of their Thanksgiving holiday on Henrys Lake.

Brook trout are one of the trophy fish that ice fishermen look for on Henrys Lake.
Henrys Lake has a short ice fishing season at it closes to all fishing from January 2nd until the Saturday before Memorial Day.  But the lake dictates even a shorter season.  Right after the lake freezes over fishing can be outstanding with most fishermen catching 10 to 20 fish per day, but as the month progresses, fishing becomes slower and slower.  By New Year’s Day few fish are caught.  With the usual bitter cold weather during December the ice grows rapidly on the shallow lake, eliminating the oxygen in the lake.  This slows the metabolism of the fish and their eating slows; so the early coldfooters get the fun and the fish.

The best areas to fish early in the season are the Henrys Lake State Park, Staley Springs area, Hatchery area, Goose Bay and the Frome County Boat Dock on the west side.

Keys to catching fish through the ice on Henrys Lake are to fish early or late in the day, find channels near the weeds and fish near the mouths of the creeks.    In this shallow lake, power ice augers appear to spook the fish out of the area.  A key is to drill enough holes early so you don’t have to drill later and let the fish move back into the area where you are fishing.  If other people move near you to fish and are noisy, move away from them and use a hand auger to drill the necessary holes.

Early ice fishermen usually find success on Henrys by using jigs like Paddlebugs tipped with mealworms or a piece of a night crawler.  A variety of lures like Rapalas and spoons can also prove effective.  When in doubt ask a successful fisherman near you – they will usually give good advice.

The key to enjoy ice fishing is to be safe.  Clear ice over two inches thick is usually safe for ice fishermen to walk on but not to use snowmobiles or four-wheelers on.  On Henrys Lake often the edge will be from two to four inches thick while the middle has open water and with springs near the shore, there will be soft or thin spots there.

Care should be taken whenever one goes ice fishing and fishermen need to be extremely careful while fishing alone.  Enjoy the winter by ice fishing, but not as a crazy wet crazy person.

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