Chill and Drill

Ask an experienced angler what’s special about ice fishing in the Flathead Valley and you’ll most likely hear about the multitude of places to fish, abundant species, easy access and liberal catch limits.

Indeed, our corner of Montana has a concentration of pristine lakes, 500 or more, ranging in size from smallish ponds to iconic Flathead Lake, the largest natural freshwater lake in the West. Little Bitterroot, Ashley and Smith lakes offer some of the best ice fishing anywhere. Anglers catch both warm and cold water species: bass, perch, northern pike, kokanee, whitefish, rainbow, cutthroat and lake trout.

To find out how addictive dropping a line through the ice can be, head for Foys Lake, less than 10 minutes from downtown Kalispell. But first, put on your warmest clothing and insulated boots. Gather your ice auger, skimmer, tackle, bait, pole and a thermos of hot coffee. Better yet, check with the experts at Snappy Sport Senter who will share the latest fishing tips and set you up with everything required for a successful day on the ice. Be sure to check weather forecasts and ice conditions.

If you prefer a guided excursion, spend the day with A Able Charters angling for your limit of 100 whitefish or lake trout on Flathead Lake. Along with professional instruction, A Able provides equipment, heated ice houses, warm meals and hot beverages.

Derby season starts in December with the annual Perch Assault on Smith Lake just west of Kalispell. Competitive opportunities continue through the winter for everyone from kids to serious sportsmen.

Check out our Fishing page for any-time-of-year angler options.

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