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Idaho Fish and Game

Feb. 3: Clearwater Regional Ice Fishing report


Always check current ice conditions before heading out any frozen water

I was nervous bird hunting season would close and ice would remain too sketchy to fish, leaving me with nothing to do but those dreaded house projects I’ve been putting off. Then the recent cold snap moved in, and the Clearwater Region got a fresh layer of hard water to fish. Thanks, Old Man Winter, for sending that groundhog back in its hole. 

REMEMBER!!! Get a 2023 fishing license before heading out fishing in the new year.


Joe Thiessen, Ice Fishing
Photo caption: Regional Fisheries Biologist Joe Thiessen with a channel catfish and rainbow trout from Winchester Reservoir


South Clearwater Ice Fisheries

Winchester LakeRainbow trout, yellow perch, channel catfish, tiger muskie, crappie, bluegill, largemouth bass

2021 Winchester Lake Channel Catfish Length Frequency
Photo caption: Lengths and frequency of all channel catfish caught using trap nets at Winchester Lake during the last fishery survey.


Ice is approximately 9-inches thick with some snow on the surface, and no slush! If anglers are looking for a pile of small perch for the frying pan, Winchester is the spot. Teardrop micro jigs in green and yellow, and tipped with any type of bait is catching perch and a few crappies. Rainbow Trout angling remains consistent, and as always, night crawlers or Powerbait hung mid-water will get you into trout. The Channel Catfish bite picked up during the last warm spell, it will be interesting to see if that continues through this current cold weather. Channel catfish average 14 ½ inches and are stocked as fingerlings every year in Winchester Lake. Catfish are a popular summer time fish to target, but often overlooked through the ice. Sinking a whole night crawler to the bottom or targeting actively feeding fish using a sonar and rattle bait will increase your chances at encountering catfish. 

Soldiers Meadow Reservoir: Rainbow trout, Kokanee Salmon, smallmouth bass

Finally, ice conditions are good enough to fish at Soldiers Meadow Reservoir. With 8 inches of ice, anglers have been doing very well catching rainbow trout and kokanee salmon. Soldiers Meadow Reservoir was rehabilitated in 2014, to rid the fishery of unwanted introduced species. Since then, the fishery has received yearly stockings of rainbow trout and kokanee salmon. There are two strains of Kokanee Salmon in Soldiers meadows, “early” and “late” spawning fish. Anglers are catching 9-14 inch kokanee through the ice. Many of the larger kokanee recently caught are spawning late run fish, which cruise the shorelines in late fall and winter looking for spawning gravels. These fish can be caught using small purple or blue jigs fished no more than 5 feet under the ice and tipped with a maggot or shoepeg corn.  

North Clearwater Ice Fisheries

Elk Creek Reservoir: Brook trout, rainbow trout, crappie, bluegill, bass
There is an 8-inch base of good ice, with a 6-inch layer of slush on it, with another 6-inches of ice on that, topped with about 3-inches of snow. Anglers are reporting good catch rates heading into this weekend’s ice fishing derby, on February 4th. Brook Trout seem harder to come by this winter, but they’re still in there. Remember that Brook Trout count towards your 6 trout daily limit at Elk Creek Reservoir. Anglers have been catching  trout using night crawlers suspended off the bottom in shallow waters less than five feet in depth. Good luck to those fishing in the derby. 

Photo caption: (by: Robert Allison) rainbow trout caught at Elk Creek Reservoir

Spring Valley Reservoir: Rainbow trout, bluegill, crappie, and bass.

The ice is back and better than ever at Spring Valley Reservoir. With 12 inches of clear ice and 3 inches of packed snow now is the time to head out to Spring Valley Reservoir. Trout fishing remains good with the usual angling techniques, but anglers have recently struggled to catch bluegill. That said, the few bluegills getting caught have been pushing 9 inches. Most anglers are targeting the new habitat structures, but a few anglers have reported catching limits of trout near the dam. Anglers catching bluegill say a sonar (vexilar) has been a must have piece of equipment, and jigging a small blue or chartreuse micro-jig tipped with one or two red spikes has been a successful presentation. 

Moose Creek Reservoir: Crappie, rainbow trout, bass, bluegill

Moose Creek has 12 inches of ice with 2 inches of packed snow on it. Rainbow trout fishing remains slow, which is disappointing after a hot early start to the season. Its proximity to Moscow, ID and quiet setting makes Moose Creek Reservoir a good family location to try ice fishing. A group of otters has been spotted on the ice and numerous moose encounters make this fishery more of an adventure. Those still catching trout are dead sticking Powerbait mid-water column. 

East Clearwater Ice Fisheries

Deer Creek Reservoir: Tiger, brook, and rainbow trout

Current ice conditions remain good at Deer Creek Reservoir. For those new to the area there is a locked gate approximately ¾ miles before reaching the reservoir, so be prepared to walk in. That said, fishing has been good for tiger trout, rainbow trout, and a few brook trout. Anglers have reported success targeting cruising trout with small orange crappie jigs and plastics.

Deyo ReservoirRainbow trout, bluegill, largemouth bass, bullhead catfish

Deyo currently has the best ice conditions in the Clearwater Region, with 12 inches of clear ice and an inch or two of snow on top. This fishery has remained very consistent this season and because of the longer drive, often gets ignored by the Lewiston crowd. Anglers are catching rainbow trout 80-100 yds off the north docks using standard trout techniques and bait. 

Many environmental factors can affect ice quality and strength. It is your responsibility to check ice thickness and conditions when you venture out onto the ice. For ice fishing safety tips please visit the IDFG Ice Fishing webpage. 

For more information on ice fishing in Idaho and ice fishing tips see: Expert ice fishing: F&G staff shares their tips so you can catch more fish.