Ice fishing on Duck Lake makes lifetime memories. Most times we remember the adventure, not the fish.
One of the most oft-repeated Duck Lake ice fishing stories happened in l995 when Roger Elliot’s truck sank to the bottom of the lake.
“Oh, ya, I was there,” Mike Allen recently told me. “I was following Roger’s Chevy pickup when his front wheels hit a soft spot and broke through the ice.”
“Our plan was to hook a nylon tow rope to the back of Roger’s truck and I would pull it back out of the shallow hole with my pickup.
“I pulled, but the truck chain broke and Roger’s truck just sank. The whole truck in about 15 feet of water.
“We could look down the hole and see a flashlight still on inside the truck.
“I’ll never forget when Roger said, ’That’s a pretty good flashlight!’
“It was actually lucky the truck sank where it did because it was dark and foggy and Roger was heading for open water.
“We called a towing company in Cut Bank. They showed up with a diver and a hundred yards of cable.
“The diver hooked the cable to the truck, then they cut a narrow channel back to shore. They pulled and when the cab hit the bottom of the ice, they cut a big hole to pull the truck out.”
Allen had been on the lake a few years earlier when a car with Canadian fishermen broke through the ice. Everyone got out safely.
“But the darnedest thing I ever saw on Duck Lake was an ice house tumbling down the lake.
“We chased it down and found a guy inside, who had gotten pretty beaten up by a cast iron stove.
“We loaded him up and returned him to his fishing buddies.”
Allen started fishing the Blackfeet reservation in the 1950s with his dad, then on through Duck Lake’s heydays in the late 1960s.
“Back then, we didn’t keep many fish less than 6-7 pounds.”
Allen’s biggest reservation fish was about 12 pounds.
“Duck Lake vehicle-through-the-ice” stories are becoming local lore as driving on the ice with cars and trucks is no longer permitted on Duck Lake.
Jerry Smalley’s Fishful Thinking column appears weekly in the Hungry Horse News.