Many anglers that I have run into recently have asked me about the perch fishing in western Montana. Dick Zimmer, the local expert from Pablo, says that this year’s perch ice fishing is the best that he can remember. Ice fishing for perch on Crow and Pablo reservoirs saw ice-anglers, including Zimmer, come away with some very nice catches. Pablo Reservoir produced five-gallon buckets full of 9- to 14-inch perch for some of the anglers. Anglers were fishing just off the dam to 200 yards beyond it, according to Zimmer.
Doug and Terry White filled their bucket using Zimmer’s new 3/8-ounce Trilobite on the No. 0 All-Glow baited with fish eyes for a bottom hook and a yellow-chartreuse LMR Special baited with maggots for a top hook.
Lake trout anglers that use the jigging method are filling coolers when they fish the points on the southwest shore of the Flathead Lake, according to Zimmer. Steamboat Rock, near Bootlegger Island, Rocky Point and the southwest point of Wild Horse Island have all been hot. Zimmer says you will find fish at any depth from 80 feet to 200 feet.
Jim Landwehr of Glacier Fishing Charter, (406) 892-2377, reportedly has been doing well for smaller lake trout near Painted Rocks. Landwehr has been using Zimmer’s Doodlebugs with LMR Specials above them. Two-thirds of the lake trout are hitting the fly.
Zimmer also reports that there are large concentrations of lakers and lake whitefish in the Polson City Docks and bridge areas. An all-green quarter-ounce Bandi-leg Grub with cut bait above a bottom weight or large red-dominant whitefish flies baited with maggots are the top offerings.
McGregor Lake Lodge reports the ice beginning to form. Anglers there are hoping for some nice ice for their upcoming tourney, Feb. 9-10. This condition might just work in the angler’s favor. If the ice hasn’t been on the lake for a long period, the fishing is often better because of residual aeration from the open water, according to Zimmer, (406) 675-0068.
The Broadwater Perch Derby took place last weekend on Canyon Ferry Lake. A total of 455 anglers took part in the singles event Saturday. Jim Newton of Helena weighed in the largest perch weight of 41.08 pounds to take first place.
This Saturday it’s the Town Pump Pre-Super Bowl ice fishing tourney on Canyon Ferry Lake. You can buy tickets for $25 until 9 a.m. Saturday morning at the Silos RV Park, (406) 266-3100, on the south end of the lake. Kids ages 15 and under fish for free.
The prize money to be given away includes $1,500 for the largest walleye and $1,500 for the largest perch caught. They are also offering $10,000 to the angler that catches a new state walleye record. That walleye will have to weigh more than the 16-pound, 10-ounce walleye Dan Spence from Bozeman caught out of Fork Peck Reservoir.
The fourth annual Valier Volunteer Fire Department ice-fishing tourney will take place Feb. 16 on Lake Frances. Tickets are $10 per angler with 50 percent of ticket sales to be awarded back to the anglers. Jim Vinson told me that there is open water on the lake but where there is ice, it is good ice. Anglers have been catching some northern pike and perch along with a few walleyes. Six set lines per angler are allowed but you cannot use live minnows. For more information, call Vinson in the evenings, (406) 279-3383.