The first hole I choose, one of the mid-lake ones over what appears to be a deeper, open basin, is devoid of fish. I skip the next hole and jump to the third in our line, approaching what I’m guessing to be a wide, shallow flat in front of the inlet. Mike is following, working the untouched holes in-between. Nothing.
I work toward the corner where our line of holes curves toward the shore, and immediately mark a fish that zips from a foot or two off bottom, rushes my lure and strikes–my first cutthroat, a pretty, pinkish-light purple sided fish with the classic, namesake scarlet bands beneath the gills. After a moment of adoration, I gently release the fish and reset, while Mike heads for holes lining the rock slide.
He soon hollers, and I rush over to help him ice another gorgeous cutthroat, adorned in her robe of many colors. After a successful release, we quickly return to task. I’m barely back to jigging, when I hear Mike shout again.
His second cutthroat, again caught near the rock slide, is a really nice fish. We release it and smile, knowing our work is done: We’ve found the lake to take our contest winners. With a safe, productive location secured, we can now fly back to prepare for the next day’s fishing–and of course, meet our guests, Jim and Nancy, who we’re hoping have arrived in Kalispell according to schedule.
On the flight back, the topic of greatest concern now becomes the weather: Did it allow Jim and Nancy’s flight to arrive in Kalispell earlier this afternoon? Will it hold again the following day so we can return and provide the ultimate ice fishing trip of a lifetime for our guests? Will it provide favorable fishing conditions?
We’re certainly hoping so as we return to rig tackle, re-pack our gear and meet the guests we’re praying have arrived safely.
How do things turn out? Find out the answers to these questions and many more by joining us for next week’s episode of TGO, Tom Gruenwald Outdoors, as our high country Kalispell adventure continues!