The first few days of March have seen scattered snow showers in the area. Even though snow is still in the air, it is comforting to know that spring is just around the corner.
Local fly fisherman have been a little frustrated because of the cold and snowy weather that has hit the rivers of Western Montana off and on since the middle of February. Before that, die-hard anglers were fishing nymphs deep and occasionally coming up with some nice trout.
Doug Persico, at Rock Creek Fishermen’s Mercantile, said there was even an occasional midge hatch on both the Bitterroot and Clark Fork Rivers. “I imagine it will be at least another two weeks before we see our first Skwala on the Bitterroot River and even longer before the other streams begin to turn on,” Persico added.
Turning to the lakes, Wayne Knudson (Walleye Wayne) from Florence tells me that spearing through the ice has picked up on Seeley Lake. Last weekend, Knudson speared a pike that was over 30 inches that he figured weighed in the 14-to-15-pound range. Knudson also mention that he had heard that a couple of pike also had been speared that weighed 15 and 18 pounds.
“‘This is the time of the year when more of the bigger pike become more active,” Knudson said. “ I look for spearing to continue to be pretty good in the next couple of weeks.”
Also regarding northern pike, Ron Zacheriason e-mailed, telling me that the Pike tourney is coming back to the Seeley Lake area. “Anglers seemed to miss it in the last couple of years,” he said. “Sowe decided to give it a go this June.”
The last Pike tourney held there drew nearly 200 anglers and organizers expect to exceed that number this time around. As soon as more details become available from Zacheriason, I will be sure to pass them along.
If tournament walleye fishing is what you’re looking forward to in the spring and summer ahead, here is a list of the Montana Walleyes Unlimited tourneys: Fresno Walleye Challenge May 30-31, call Mike Barthel 406-265-2016; Rock Creek Tournament on Fort Peck Reservoir June 7-8, call Bill Dasinger 406-653-1952; Tiber Walleye Tournament June 14-15, call Austin Gifford 406-736-5348; Canyon Ferry Walleye Festival June 28-29, call Doug Breker 406-266-3102; Hell Creek Walleye Tournament July 25-26 call Darryl Turner, 406-557-2248; and the Fall Classic Walleye Tournament August 9-10, contact Ted Toavs POBOX 2040 Wolf Point, MT 59201-2040.
A couple of walleye tourneys that aren’t in the Montana Walleye Circuit, but are popular events are: the Tough Guy Tourney, May 3 out of Hell Creek on Fort Peck, call Joe Herbold in Jordan 406-557-2302; Montana Governors Cup, July 11-12, Fort Peck Marina, Fort Peck Reservoir, call Jill Hamilton at 406-228-2222.
Both the Canyon Ferry Walleye Tournament and Montana Walleye Governors Cup offer a $10,000 first place prize based on a full field.
The Montana Hunting and Fishing Show will be held this weekend in Kalispell at the Majestic Valley Arena. It the second year for the outdoor show and this year Bill Rier Jr., the show manager, says the Glacier Gun Club will be there to put on demonstrations with their dogs. There will be a live grizzly and a black bear along with a mountain lion. Well-known area outfitters Lee Bridges and Smoke Elser will be putting on seminars as well. I will be there doing a broadcast of the Montana Outdoor Radio Show. Stop by our booth and say hi and we will give you 2003 Montana Fish Wildlife and Parks Big Game and Upland Bird dates scheduling guide.