Turkey hunters will be hen-yelping all across the state beginning Saturday as the spring turkey season opens in Montana. Some of the hunting districts are by permit only particularly in western Montana, but most of the eastern part of the state can be hunted with an over-the-counter tag available from any license agent.
The spring season is open for gobblers only. In other words, only male or tom turkeys are legal game. Make sure you know the difference between a tom and a hen and be extra sure to play it safe because hunters will be out in full camouflage – not the hunter orange they have to wear during the fall big game season.
If you want to know more about turkey hunting in Montana, log on to www.montanaoutdoor.com and go the Outdoor Chat page. There you can ask Geoff Cerrelli from Bozeman questions about the sport. Cerrelli is an active member of the National Wild Turkey Federation and has been a featured speaker at outdoor shows on turkey hunting in Montana this past year.
Fishing: Fishing is picking up on the lakes around Montana. Lisa from the Silos RV (406-266-3100) reports that trout fishing on Canyon Ferry Lake has been excellent. “We’ve seen a lot of 4- to 5-pound trout brought in by both boat and shore anglers,” she said. The boat anglers are fishing in about 30- to 40-feet of water trolling chartreuse crankbaits 15 to 18 feet deep. Shore anglers are using worms or marshmallows. Fly-fishermen are also having luck with black flies like woolly buggers, bitch creeks and scuds. Just throw them out and retrieve slowly. Lisa also reports the boat ramps are all usable and the level of the lake is better than it typically is for this time of the year.
Bob Culp from Frenchtown reports that the trout fishing trolling by boat on Holter Lake north of Helena has been good. “We caught a few nice 4-pounders but mostly in the 2-pound range,” says Culp. The walleye fishing has been pretty slow on Holter according to the anglers Culp has talked to.
Dick Zimmer (406-675-0068) could hardly contain himself when I talked to him earlier in the week. “Rocky Point is dynamite on Flathead Lake,” Zimmer said. “You can easily catch between 50 and 100 small lake trout from 9 a.m. and 2 p.m.” If you want larger fish, head for shallower water by the city docks in Polson or go north and fish where the Flathead River comes into the lake by Bigfork. “The perch bite could happen just about any day now,” added Zimmer. “The water needs to warm to about 55 degrees and it will warm up faster in the east Polson Bay because it is shallower.
We will have a live update on the perch fishing from Zimmer this Saturday on the Montana Outdoor Radio Show. The show airs from 6 to 8 a.m. on KGVO 1290 AM in Missoula, KERR 750 AM in Polson, KJJR 880 AM in Kalispell and KLYQ 1240 AM in Hamilton.
Dog Lake has been fishing well for northern pike as has the Flathead River below Moiese. Use smelt with a bobber. Let the bobber go down, then come back up and then down again before you set the hook.
Just look for a nice hole on the river and fish from shore. Crappie anglers might be in for some good fishing on Blanchard Lake, which is between Kalispell and Whitefish. Reports this past winter had ice anglers come away with some nice catches of crappie. Zimmer thinks once the water warms on that small body of water that spring anglers should enjoy some good fishing. It should happen this month according to Zimmer.
The spring pre-spawn walleye bite is on at Fort Peck Reservoir, even though there was still some ice left on the lake as of last weekend. Alton Smith from Glasgow found enough open water to launch a boat and in a couple of hours caught 10-pound, 8-pound, 5-pound and some other walleyes that ran between 3 and 5 pounds. The big lake is a ways across Montana, but if you hit it right, like Smith did, the trip will probably end up being an annual affair.
For more information on the fishing on Fort Peck by the dam, call Smith at Mon-Dak Marine, 406-228-2900, or Gene Moore at the Lakeridge Motel, 406-526-3597.
It’s time to go fishin’. Good luck.
Mark Ward’s statewide Montana Outdoor Radio Show airs Saturdays from 6 to 8 a.m. in Missoula on KGVO 1290 AM. E-mail Ward at firstname.lastname@example.org.