Montana trout record a hoax
By Hookemharry

Posted: February 17, 2005

About a week ago, the e-mails began. All of them were asking for more information about a “new Montana state record brown trout.”

The trout was rumored to have been caught out of Clark Canyon Reservoir by Tim Johansen of Butte.

As rumors and e-mails often go, they were half correct. There is a new state record fish which was caught by a angler with the name Tim Johansen. The problem is that Johansen lives in Beulah, N.D. Another problem is that the trout was not caught in Montana, but instead at Garrison tail race in North Dakota.

Even if it is the wrong state, the fish is an eye-popper. It was 36.5 inches long and weighed 31 pounds, 11 ounces.

If you still don’t believe it was caught in North Dakota, you can go to the North Dakota Game and Fish Web site at and read all about it.

Just in case you are wondering, the Montana state record brown trout was caught in 1966 by E. H. (Peck) Bacon out of Wade Lake and weighed 29-pounds.

So yes, the 31-11 brown would have broken the Montana state record, but it was caught in the wrong place and in the wrong state.

Mike Violette, from Lolo, has been busy ice fishing western Montana waters and e-mailed a report saying Georgetown Lake has been fishing very well and still has lots of good ice. Fishing for the most part has been good all winter.

Bitterroot Lake had 5 inches of ice on Saturday with 1.5 inches of honeycombed ice on the top. Salmon were running around 9 inches, though every once in a while a 14-incher would show up. On Sunday, he fished Stillwater Lake, west of Whitefish and found 14 inches of great ice and fair to good perch fishing with the perch running as big as 11.5 inches.

Jim Farrington, from Stevensville, reports that the spearing up at Seeley Lake has been very slow. Other fishing reports out of Seeley Lake and Salmon Lake say the tip-up fishing is slow one angler caught a four-pounder just before dark on a tip-up baited with herring on Salmon. Jigging them in if you have the patience is another good way to go. Using a Swedish pimple and vibrating it seemed to get the northern pike active.

Try fishing in 8 feet of water over the weeds when using this method. One angler reported on the Outdoor Chat page on that this might be a good alternative to smelt or herring just sitting there waiting for a hungry fish to come by.

Gerry, at the Silos RV Park on the south end of Canyon Ferry Lake, reports that the ice is very good at 18-20 inches. Anglers have been doing well on trout in 4 to 5 feet of water and 14 inches where the anglers have been doing poorly on perch.

Also, take note that there’s a new perch limit — 15 per day and 15 in possession — now in effect on Canyon Ferry Lake. Gerry also reports that the walleye fishing is slow and the ling fishing has picked up a little.

If you’re in the mood to travel, some big walleyes and northern pike have been reported from Hell Creek on Fort Peck Reservoir. Typically, this is the time of year when the big pike start stirring. Check out the ice fishing photo gallery at if you want to take a look at recent catches.

And, finally, there’s still a good perch bite going on at Nelson Reservoir, near Malta. Perch are running 8 to 10 inches with a 12-incher thrown in every once in a while. Tip-up anglers are also catching walleyes and pike at Nelson.