“What a way to spend Halloween,” said Brandon Christensen, my grandson, said as he iced a nice cutthroat. “This is the first time I have ever ice fished in October.”
After Henrys Lake froze over Monday night, I stayed in touch with Mike Wilson, owner of Drift Lodge on Henrys Lake Flat in Fremont County. On Wednesday, he informed me that the ice was about three inches thick and a 10-pound hybrid had been caught at Staley Springs and there were a lot of fish there. I called Brandon and Wayne Clayton and the three of us cleared our afternoon schedules so we could enjoy the new ice.
Thursday morning I double checked the ice by calling a friend, Mike Tubbs, whose cabin sets next to Staleys. “There are 10 fishermen just off the springs and six of them are fighting fish right now, so the ice has to be good,” he informed me. “But the edges are a little spooky so you have to find a spot where it is solid to get on the ice safely.”
I quickly drilled six holes through the three to four inches of clear ice and within five minutes of fishing we had fish on the ice. The largest fish we caught was a 23-inch hybrid with most of the cutthroats ranging from 14 to 19 inches long. We also caught brook trout from 14 to 16 inches with a neighbor cold-footer landing one about 19 inches.
Each group of fishermen was using different types of lures and bait. A group from Island Park and St. Anthony was doing very well with jigs tipped with shrimp and they had caught the largest fish with several pushing five pounds. They had fished the previous day in the same spot where they had landed a large hybrid over 10 pounds.
We were using white jigs tipped with sucker meat, minnows and sculpins. We quickly found that our bait was too large as we probably missed around 10 hits for every fish we caught so we down sized and started hooking the light-biting fish.
“I think I missed from 40 to 45 hits,” Wayne commented to his son on a telephone call, trying to convince him to go fishing on Friday.
The champion fish-catcher of the day had to be Kyle Glass from Idaho Falls as we watched him catch fish after fish after fish. He was using a small green jig with no bait.
“Boy, the (Idaho Department of) Fish and Game wanted to populate Henrys Lake and they were certainly successful,” Glass said while I watched him catch seven fish in about 10 minutes. “There are enough fish in the lake for everyone wanting to catch them, but they are smaller than I would like to catch. Tomorrow I will probably try the Cliffs to try to get a big one.”
But of course, the big ones we hooked either wiggled or broke off creating future stories about the “one that got away.”
With only a couple of inches of snow on the ground, access to the lake is readily available. Fishermen can drive into the Cliffs, Henrys Lake State Park, Frome County docks, Garbage Point, the Stump Hole and the Henrys Lake Hatchery. The state park and Staley Springs were the most popular fishing areas on Halloween. Staley Springs is surrounded by private property and fishermen desiring to fish that area should get permission from the land owners to access the lake.
The ice is still thin and extreme caution should be used while fishing Henrys with the edges broken up due to the expanding ice. From Staleys we could see pressure ridges developing out on the lake.
Fishermen looking for bait near Henrys can find sucker meat, minnows and night crawlers at Drift Lodge at Aspen Ridge on Henrys Lake Flat. Mike and Garrett will have up-to-date information about the fishing and ice conditions and can be contacted at (208) 558-0152.
“I can’t wait until we get up here again,” said Brandon as we drove home to watch the trick-or-treaters invade the area homes. “What a great afternoon.”
It was a great afternoon, but if you are going – please be safe as the ice is still new and thin.