Magic Reservoir is frozen and more ice fishing updates

Photo by Roger Phillips
Things change fast when temperatures dip into single digits and sub zero. On Wednesday, I talked to Don Hartman, owner of West Magic Resort, and he said there was still open water on the reservoir. On Thursday, Dec. 5 he called to tell me it had frozen over during the night. It’s still too thin for fishing, but it’s obviously moving in the right direction. Idaho’s frost belt (mountains and high elevations and high plains) will likely see sub-zero temps over the weekend. Forecasts for Stanley, which is often the coldest place in the state, is for 18-below zero.

Cascade will likely see sub-zero temps, too, but Tackle Tom’s was reporting open water in the reservoir on Wednesday. This weather will also likely freeze it over, if it hasn’t already.

Horsethief Reservoir is frozen and often the first place in south or central Idaho where ice fishing starts, but here’s where I become a worry wart. Be careful out there. We have lots of winter ahead of us, and there’s no sense in jumping the gun before the ice is thick enough. Idaho Fish and Game recommends at least 4 inches of solid ice – not mushy or porous – before it’s generally considered safe for fishing. Fish with a partner, take extra dry clothes and take a throw rope along just in case. Experienced ice anglers also carry a knife or ice spikes on a lanyard around their neck. It gives a person who has fallen through something to grip the ice to help pull themselves out, or at least something to hang onto as they await help.

Just the thought of that scares me enough to keep me on the beach, and I am not exactly a risk-averse guy. If someone heads out there this weekend, I would love to get a report. You can email But again, please be careful.

I’m already curious if we will have a cold spell that matches last winter and have ice fishing on C.J. Strike, which is pictured above. It’s rare that ice freezes thick enough for Strike, and ice anglers even got to fish at Lake Lowell last winter. I remember talking to one old guy who had lived in the Treasure Valley for over 40 years. I asked him how often he saw ice fishing on Lake Lowell and he replied “Not very darned often,” so I am not optimistic. But it was really fun having ice fishing that close to the Treasure Valley, and lots of folks got to try ice fishing for the first time last year.

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Posted in Into the Outdoors