2020 Ice-Fishing Derby Season

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by Brian Baxter

One happy angler shows off his winning mackinaw during the

2020 McGregor Lake Derby

Photo courtesy of Brandy Kiefer


On Saturday, Feb. 6, 2021, the 16th Annual Ryan Wagner Memorial Ice Fishing Derby will be held at Murphy Lake, near Fortine, Mont. The derby, established in memory of Ryan Wagner, began when the young fishing fanatic who once kept journals of all his fishing trips passed away during the winter of his senior year in high school when his car hit a patch of ice and spun into some trees. Ryan’s former teacher, Mike Santori, now organizes the memorial event each year.  Those wishing to know more about the northern Lincoln County event may contact Mike at 882-6018 or the Fortine Ranger District at 882-4451.

Saturday and Sunday, Feb. 6 and 7, the Thompson Chain of Lakes will be hosting the 2021 Perch Assault derby. Spinning gear with jigs of yellow and chartreuse color, baiting maggots, wax-worms, perch belly strips or earthworms reportedly works well at various depths when angling for perch. The contact for Thompson Lakes event is Chancy Jeschke, 314-8024.

On Saturday and Sunday, Feb. 20 and 21, the Fisher River Valley Fire/Rescue Auxiliary will be hosting their annual tournament held at Crystal, Loon, and the Lower Thompson chain of lakes. A $20 dollar entrance fee per person is split three ways. $12 goes into the prize money pot, $7 is donated to Fisher River Valley Fire and Rescue, and $1 goes to Montana Fish, Wildlife, and Parks. Monies raised for the first responders station will be designated this year toward a $70K matching grant fund to purchase a new ambulance, along with additional equipment currently needed to continue serving the area.

Advance tickets are available for purchase locally at Libby Sports and Happy’s Inn, or can also be purchased at Snappys Sports Center of Kalispell. Organizers ask that participants observe Covid-19 restrictions and adhere to social distancing requirements as much as possible. Awards will be given for record salmon, rainbow trout, yellow perch and pike.

Kokanee salmon are often lured with glow hooks or jigs under a flasher and jig baited with maggots or wax worms. Best colors are red, orange, or chartreuse. Rainbow trout are sought by fishing from the bottom and up about 15 ft. Small metal jigs with or without red, pink, orange or green/yellow flashers are tipped with worms, shrimp, or salmon eggs work well. Please call Mike Munro at 293-3450 for further information on the Fisher River Valley event or to arrange a monetary contribution to this year’s matching grant fund goal.
That same weekend, Feb. 20 and 21, the Halfway House Bar & Grill will be hosting its annual ice derby at Bull Lake. Northern pike are the main catch at this derby each year. Some recommend fishing just outside the weed-lines in 10-12 ft of water using smelt on a double hook with a quick strike jig. Others suggest a 1/4 to 1/2 lead head jig with a 3” white Mr. Twister and cut bait. Contact Jason Williams at 295-4358 for more information on the Bull Lake event.

The final weekend of the month, Feb. 27 and 28, The Lodge at McGregor Lake will again be hosting winter anglers for an ice-fishing event under new owners, Sam Nickol and Brandy Kiefer. Rainbow, lake trout and the
coveted mackinaw are traditionally harvested here. Lake trout fishing is considered its own science for many fishermen, as they are carnivorous feeders. Fishing just off the lake bottom in 20-150 ft or more in the water has seemed to work well for many and colored line can help keep track of depth. Those interested in the McGregor weekend event may find more information by calling 858-2253.

Ziply Fiber lights up gig-speed fiber________


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“The work Ziply Fiber has done and will continue to do will improve service for many Kootenai Valley residents and businesses. We made significant investments in Lincoln County this past year. We built and continue to build fiber to  homes and businesses in the immediate Libby area, and to more rural areas including Libby Dam, Bull Lake, Prospect Creek and Bobtail. While we have not yet finalized plans or timing for our next phase of fiber builds, Troy and the larger Kootenai Valley region are definitely on our radar.”
– Ryan Luckin, VP Communications, Ziply Fiber



While there’s still more work to be done by improving the quality, capacity and reliability of those critical network components, customers of all types of services will benefit.

The next several months will be busy ones for the company as additional fiber build projects will hit key stages where gig-speed fiber internet service is turned on in build locations throughout the Northwest region.

Ziply Fiber’s primary service offerings are Fiber Internet and phone for residential customers, Business Fiber Internet and Ziply Voice services for small businesses; and a variety of internet, networking and voice solutions for enterprise customers.

The company will continue to support DSL customers. A full listing of products and services can be found at get.ziplyfiber.com.

Ziply Fiber is local in the Northwest, headquartered in Kirkland, Washington, and has major offices in Everett, Washington; Beaverton, Oregon and Hayden, Idaho.

Most of Ziply Fiber’s executive team, which consists of former executives from AT&T, CenturyLink and Wave Broadband, either grew up in the Northwest or have spent the better part of 30 years living here. That local ownership and market familiarity is an important part of the company mindset and culture.


Submitted by Ziply Fiber