As Mark Henckel, outdoor editor of the Billings Gazette put it last Saturday on the Montana Outdoor Radio Show, “If you want to catch fish, now is the time to hit the water.”
Whether you are an river, creek or lake angler, the hardest part of your decision where you’re going to go to try your luck. There are simply too many places offering good fishing right now to make that decision an easy one.
East of the mountains. Sprawling Fort Peck Reservoir is as hot as it has been in a number of years. Anglers are reporting catches of walleye from the dam all the way to Hell Creek and beyond.
It’s not just trophy fish and not just the smaller eaters. Anglers are catching walleyes of both sizes. Fort Peck biologist Mike Ruggles predicted there would be good numbers of 13 to 19 inch walleyes that would be in the shallows and hungry this year. That prediction turned out to be true.
But there also have been a fair number of 10-pound-plus walleyes, too. Dick Gondeiro, from Raynesford, reports nice limits of three to four pounders out of Duck Creek, just west of the dam. Henckel said he heard of a number of 10-plus fish being taken last weekend. Everything is working, he added, from jigs to bottom bouncers and spinners to crankbaits.
The Montana Walleye Governors Cup which takes place July 10th-12th still has 25 team openings left to fill out of the 200 team field. Entry fee is $300 per team and first place is worth $10,000. You can contact Jill Hamilton from the Glasgow area Chamber of Commerce for more information or to sign up at 406-228-2222.
Paddlefish fishing by the Fred Robinson Bridge, on the Missouri, is still going strong. Glenn Siroky from Roy also reports some catches of walleye and catfish on the Missouri River.
The cold front that Mother Nature blew through Montana last weekend put a little damper on the walleye fishing Canyon Ferry and Holter Lake. The winds were strong and the water temperature dropped about 15 degrees from its high last week.
But anglers will be back on the water on Canyon Ferry Lake this weekend. There is a full field of 150 teams ready to fish for the $10,000 first place prize in the Canyon Ferry Walleye Festival.
Doug Breker, tournament director, believes most of the anglers will be fishing the south end of the lake even though he has been successful in catching some walleyes north of White Earth Campground.
The walleye fishing has been a major economic shot in the arm for the area. The public campground by the Silos has been setting records for usage this year, as the bite went on for the walleyes around Memorial Day.
Holter Lake is still red hot for both trout and walleye anglers. Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks has been managing the lake for walleyes and trout for the past 10 years and it seems to be paying handsome dividends for anglers. Leeches and nightcrawlers seem to work equally well on both lakes, which are located on the Missouri River, below Canyon Ferry.
Incidentally, the water level on Canyon Ferry Lake last week was the highest I have ever seen it. It might have something to do with the good fishing.
Jay, from Mountain Meadows Resort, tells me the salmon fishing is red hot on Lake Mary Ronan.
Dave Kumlien, from Bozeman, added that while the salmonfly hatch on the Big Hole was in the river’s very headwaters, the hatch popped last week at Ennis on the Madison. Water conditions are good and the fish appear to be cooperative. Who could ask for more?
Winners in a couple of fishing tourneys that were held a couple of weeks ago. Wendy Becker from Corvallis won $1000 from the Spring Mack Days held on Flathead Lake. Becker entered 9 fish into the lottery drawing. Frank Sheridan from Arlee entered 8 lake trout into the lottery and won $500.
Tony Murer from Seeley Lake won the $500 first place prize from the Mr Pike Classic. Murer caught 24 Northern Pike that weighed a combinedt 57 pounds, 13 ounces. Richard Babbit caught the largrest pike of the two-day tourney at eight pounds. A total of 72 anglers entered the derby which took place on Salmon and Seeley Lake.