The 5 Best Lakes for Ice Fishing in Montana

Ice fishing

Written by Volia Schubiger

Updated: April 26, 2023

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Often called “Big Sky Country,” Montana is an absolutely gorgeous state with breathtaking mountain views and tons of wildlife. This also means that the state is no stranger when it comes to fishing activities — especially ice fishing. With beautiful state parks and a plethora of outdoor activities, fishing is another pastime that Montanans greatly enjoy. Whether it’s spring, summer, or winter, there are always anglers in the state ready to whip out their fishing gear and fish!

Although there are lots of places to go ice fishing in the state, it can be difficult to choose the right location. That’s why we’ve put together a list of the best lakes for ice fishing in Montana. So whether you’re a novice to the state or a long-time Montanan simply looking for a new fishing spot — we’ve got you covered.

The 5 Best Lakes for Ice Fishing in Montana

Georgetown Lake

Rainbow Trout

Anglers throughout the state of Montana travel to Georgetown Lake to take advantage of the ice fishing opportunities.


Our list starts off with Georgetown Lake, one of the better-known ice fishing spots in the state. Georgetown Lake is located in Southwest Montana near Anaconda. This is considered one of the most beautiful lakes in the state. It’s so beautiful that people travel to this lake all throughout the year — including in the winter. Although the lake is relatively large at 3,000 acres, it is actually not that deep. This is why it freezes over so quickly, though. The best time to visit this lake is during the months of December through March. Anglers come here to fish for salmon, rainbow trout, and brook trout. Georgetown Lake is also a Blue Ribbon fishery stream. This means that you will be able to fish for high-quality fish in these waters. Overall, this is a beautiful lake with an abundance of fish to catch in the wintertime.

Fort Peck Lake

Fort Peck Lake in Montana - Largest Man-Made Lake in Montana 2

Many anglers come to Fort Peck Lake to catch trophy fish like lake trout, walleye, and northern pike.

©Beets Productions/

Fort Peck Lake is a major reservoir in Montana. It was formed when a dam was created on the Missouri River, and it is now the largest body of water in the state. Fort Peck Lake is the fifth-largest artificial lake in the United States. To get a better understanding of how large it is, the lake spans an area of 245,000 acres. The lake is roughly 134 miles in length and has a maximum depth of 220 feet. In addition to being quite large, this lake is also one of the best spots to go ice fishing in the state. This lake features nearly 50 different types of fish species. These include fish such as walleye, northern pike, trout, and smallmouth bass. This is a fantastic lake to visit if you’re looking for a wide variety of fish to catch. 

Flathead Lake

Flathead Lake

Positioned in northwest Montana, Flathead Lake is the largest natural freshwater lake west of the Mississippi.


Flathead Lake is a huge lake! In fact, it is the largest natural freshwater lake in the west. As such a huge lake, it rarely fully freezes over. The lake comprises 200 square miles of water and 185 miles of shoreline. Despite this, the lake is still a popular spot for ice fishing. Many bays and inlets freeze during the winter and make perfect spots to ice fish. There is a wide array of fish that anglers can catch here. These fish include lake trout, whitefish, northern pike, bass, yellow perch, and salmon. 

However, it is important to note that the southern half of Flathead Lake is part of the Flathead Indian Reservation. This reservation is home to the Confederated Salish and Kootenai tribes. Therefore, those looking to ice fish will need to obtain a permit to do so. Overall, this is an excellent lake for anglers looking to maintain a lot of personal space while fishing for many different fish species.

Canyon Ferry Lake

gorgeous sunrise at Canyon Ferry Lake

Located on the Missouri River near Helena and Townsend, Montana, this lake is the state’s third-largest body of water.


Canyon Ferry Lake is one of the most popular recreational areas in the state. This is because it is conveniently located from Helena, Great Falls, and Butte, Montana. This lake is actually the third largest in the state. It covers 35,181 acres and 76 miles of shore and was formed when the Canyon Ferry Dam was built. It continues to be a popular ice fishing destination thanks to its array of rainbow trout, walleye, ling, and perch.

Hebgen Lake

Hebgen Lake

Hebgen Lake is an excellent ice fishing spot for big trout.


Located just outside of Yellowstone National Park is a gorgeous lake known as Hebgen Lake. This is a great place to go, especially if you already have plans to explore Yellowstone National Park. What makes this lake so great is that it is 21 square miles, which means there is plenty of space to spread out and not feel like you’re being crowded by lots of other people. Some of the easiest and most accessible spots to access the lake for ice fishing include Kirkwood Resort and Marina. When fishing here, you can expect to catch lots of trout, including rainbow and brown trout. The average size of the fish in this lake is anywhere between 14-18 inches. However, some anglers have caught fish that were 20 inches in size! With just the right amount of patience, you could walk away with a real trophy fish.

Summary of the 5 Best Lakes for Ice Fishing in Montana

1Georgetown Lake
2Fort Peck Lake
3Flathead Lake
4Canyon Ferry Lake
5Hebgen Lake

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About the Author

Volia Schubiger is a freelance copywriter and content editor with a passion and expertise in content creation, branding, and marketing. She has a background in Broadcast Journalism & Political Science from CUNY Brooklyn College. When she's not writing she loves traveling, perusing used book stores, and hanging out with her other half.

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