Winter Fishing

Ice Fishing

Ice fishing in the recreation area is a fun and relaxing way to get outdoors during the long winter months. Remember to check either the Montana or the Wyoming fishing regulations before heading out to the lake.

Before heading out onto the ice check with the recreation area or other local sources for the up-to-date lake ice conditions and always fish with a buddy whenever possible. Remember the standard "one inch thick" is safe guideline is not always accurate. Ice seldom forms at a uniform rate, and the Bighorn Lake has many springs and currents. Some spots on the lake may be thick enough to hold a car, while others may not support a person.

When venturing out onto the ice, take a few large nails and nylon rope. If you do go through the ice, the nails will help you grip the slippery surface and the rope can be thrown to shore or another person. If you do break through the ice, do not panic! Turn towards the way you came, or the ice that supported you. Use your nails or hands to gain a hold of unbroken or solid ice. Once out of the water, roll away until you are on solid ice.

To keep yourself safe, the recreation area recommends you:

  • Wear a personal flotation device.
  • Test the strength of the ice before walking out on it.
  • Clear ice is the strongest and ice that has melted and refrozen will have a milky appearence, be porous and weak.
  • Ice covered by snow should always be presumed unsafe, and if there is slush on the ice...stay off!
  • Be careful around pressure cracks, and assume that no ice is safe.
  • Avoid ice around structures, docks and pilings.
  • If you see someone fall through the ice, do not run toward the person; carefully extend a rope, ladder, pole or line to them.

Last updated: March 8, 2013

Contact the Park

Mailing Address:

Bighorn Canyon National Recreation Area Headquarters Office
PO Box 7458

Fort Smith, MT 59035


(307) 548-5406

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