Ice fishing at Bighorn Lake is an over 40 year winter tradition for many families in Wyoming and Montana. You will find groups all over the South District, from Crooked Creek Bay to Horseshoe Bend, all the way down to the east shore areas off the John Blue Canyon road.
The ice fishing season usually begins in December and runs to early March. The ice gets very thick, reaching a depth of 20 to 30 inches.
Ice fishing is limited in the Barry’s Landing area. Due to the deep, warmer water it freezes late into the winter and is not uniformly thick. One needs to be extremely careful fishing this area. Check ice depth with your ice spud on every step for thin spots. Also, going into the canyon from Crooked Creek Bay to the north is not recommended due to the varying thickness of the ice caused by the river current and springs of warmer water.
Remember no motorized vehicles on the ice. Please click here for a map showing approved roads that can be driven below the high water line.
Be sure to review the Montana and Wyoming fishing regulations, especially the special winter time fishing changes. Check about National Park Service regulations at the Bighorn Canyon Visitor Center in Lovell, Wyoming.
Walleye and sauger prefer limited light so dawn and dusk are preferred times to fish for these species.
Equipment & Supplies
Essential equipment and supplies are helpful for a safe, fun trip. Some items to consider:
Words of Caution
As the lake level drops in the winter the ice falls at the shore, making it steep and slick, so use caution when going on and off the ice covered lake. Snow drifts can be a problem in the Yellowtail Unit after a snow storm with wind.
Last updated: February 23, 2020