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Dec. 30 Clearwater Region Ice Fishing Update

Below you will find conditions, fishing outlooks and general information about the Clearwater Region's ice fisheries. Ice conditions can be extremely variable. 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 Fish and Game's Ice Fishing webpage.

Remember: Get a 2023 fishing license before heading out fishing in the new year.


North Clearwater Ice Fisheries

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

There is 6-8 inches of ice with some slush and snow on top. However, daily highs above freezing and rain in the forecast may deteriorate formed ice, so use extreme caution this upcoming weekend. Hopefully the coming weeks bring colder weather and Spring Valley will form more consistent ice conditions.

Despite stocking 9,000 trout in October, rainbow trout fishing has been slow. Those anglers braving the weather reported catching a handful of bluegill ranging from 8-9.5 inches. Spring surveys found that the average size of bluegill in Spring Valley Reservoir has increased over the past years and is slightly larger than 8 inches. 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 maggot, 6-12 inches off the bottom has been the successful presentation.


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

Moose Creek has 10 inches of ice with 9 inches of slushy snow on it. The forecast of above-freezing temperatures will not help the slush, but at least there’s a good base of ice below. Ice anglers should still be aware of potential soft spots in the ice, especially around preexisting auger holes.

Rainbow trout fishing was hot in early December, but it’s since slowed down. Moose Creek received over 10,000 stocked trout in fall, so there is still plenty of fish to catch. Working a red crappie jig in mid-water continues to be the ticket and will catch everything from trout to crappie. We even watched one angler get completely worked over by a tanker bass hooked on a small crappie jig and curl-tail.

Elk Creek Reservoir: Brook trout, rainbow trout, crappie, bluegill, bass

There is approximately 20 inches of ice at Elk Creek Reservoir, with a 2-inch false top of frozen slush. The current snow sitting on the ice is dry and fluffy, but warmer weather and rain forecasted this weekend may turn things slushy.

The road is currently plowed up to the reservoir, and there is little to no sign of ice fishing activity. As such, we do not have a current fishing report for Elk Creek Reservoir. For those adventuring to Elk Creek Reservoir, remember that brook trout count towards your 6-trout daily limit.   

East Clearwater Ice Fisheries

Deer Creek Reservoir: Tiger, brook and rainbow trout

Current ice conditions are good, with 7 inches of clear ice and 4 inches of frozen slush on top. There is a locked gate approximately ¾ miles before reaching the reservoir, so bring your snowshoes, cross-country skis and a willingness to hoof it.

Angler use has been low at Deer Creek Reservoir, but those willing to walk have been catching tiger trout 10-20 yards off the west shoreline. Because of the added walking, anglers have been using very simple setups. A few rods with worm-tipped hooks hung in the lower half of the water column is as simple as it gets and fits into a backpack or 5-gallon bucket nicely.

Deyo Reservoir: Rainbow trout, bluegill, largemouth bass, bullhead catfish

Deyo currently has the best ice conditions in the Clearwater Region, with 8 inches of clear ice and an inch or so of slush on top. One would think the reservoir's easy drive-up access would turn Deyo into one of the more popular Clearwater ice fisheries. However, very few anglers have ventured to Deyo this season, and it remains a quite spot with limited competition. Local anglers, and a few anglers willing to make the trek out there, have had moderate success catching trout using Powerbait just below the surface.

Campbells Pond: Rainbow trout, bluegill, largemouth bass, bullhead catfish

We currently do not have a report on Campbells Pond.


South Clearwater Ice Fisheries

Winchester Lake: Rainbow trout, yellow perch, channel catfish, tiger muskie, crappie, bluegill, largemouth bass

Spring surveys found that the fish assemblage at Winchester was dominated by small yellow perch, and ice anglers will confirm that is the case. For every 9-inch perch caught anglers will catch a dozen perch shorter than 7 inches. Using a perch patterned rip’n-rap tipped with spikes will catch “larger” perch and a few trout. Anglers have also been catching trout simply hanging a worm midwater and watching for a strike. Most trout being caught are 12-14 inches, but anglers caught a few 16-inch trout last weekend that were full of small perch. 

Slush, slush, slush! There is approximately 6 inches of ice at Winchester, but there is 9 inches of slush on top, and the shorelines are beginning to soften with the warm weather we’ve been having. Proceed with extreme caution this upcoming weekend and like most other fisheries, hope for colder forecasts to sureup ice conditions after the new year.

Soldiers Meadow Reservoir: Rainbow trout, kokanee salmon, smallmouth bass

Current ice conditions remain poor, with most of the reservoir having slushy, soft ice around the edges. It appears that anglers will have to wait until after the new year and likely more mid-January before ice conditions improve at Soldiers Meadow.

Tolo Lake: Channel catfish, bluegill, crappie, bass, rainbow trout

The catfish through the ice experience will have to wait. This week’s warm weather has Tolo Lake looking more like a duck pond than an ice fishery. Winter really needs to make up its mind, but until it does, Tolo is a no-go.

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