What happened to winter?
By Hookemharry

Posted: March 2, 2005

Remember the old joke? Montana has two seasons – 50 weeks of winter and two weeks of tourist? That’s not far from the truth.

You could make a strong argument that Montana is a land of three-seasons. In fact, this past year has been very disappointing if you liked the old Montana weather patterns that included a real winter.

Most of the time you could expect snow in any season and were never surprised when it happened. But that hasn’t even been the case for most of the winter months this year.

It started last November with mild weather all month so most elk hunters, including myself, were left with no elk in the freezer. Then came December and it was just about as mild until the end of the month when it finally started to freeze enough to form ice on the lakes.

But still through it all hardly any snow has accumulated except about half of what we expect to be normal for the mountains in Western Montana.

To top it off most of the months of January and February have felt like springtime with temperatures even up into the 50’s most days.

I have even threatened to move out of the state if this nice weather continues. Of course the response I get is: “Don’t let the sunshine hit you in the behind as you cross the border.”

Well, all is not lost. Maybe it is time to start getting your open water fishing gear in order. Check the line on your reels and replace when in doubt. Make sure your tackle box is stocked with all the essentials like swivels, leaders, hooks, lures and bobbers.

If you are a fly-tier, then start tying flies. Heck, with the nice weather, you can sit outside and soak up the sun while you tie up your favorite patterns.

Most of the locals sporting good stores are now stocked with the latest and greatest fishing equipment, so take time out to stroll through and see what is new.

If you are a boat owner, then now is the time to start going through your early spring boat-checklist. Make sure your fire extinguisher is legal. Check your life jackets to see if any need to be replaced. Your boat motor prop might need to be tuned up or perhaps you need to have the spare prop fixed.

Batteries are always an item that should be checked before you head out for the first time. There is nothing worse than to back your boat down the boat ramp and when you try to fire up the motor, you turn the key nothing happens. The first and only time that happened to me, I will never forget the look on the face of my fishing partner at that moment.

Your trailer hubs should also be checked and re-packed if necessary. If you left them without getting them checked before you put your boat in storage this past fall, then they might need some attention.

These are just a few suggestions to help make things go a little smoother on your maiden voyage this spring.

If you are looking for something fun to do this weekend, you can head for the Adams Center and take in the Montana Hunting and Fishing Show. The show opens at 5 p.m. on Friday and runs until 9 p.m.. On Saturday, the show will run from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. while Sunday’s hours are 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.

More 100 exhibitors will be on hand to offer you everything from hunting trip information from as far away as Africa to fishing trips in your own backyard.

When you go, stop by the Montana Outdoor Radio Show booth and get your free schedule card for the upcoming Big Game and Upland Bird seasons.

I will also introduce you to our 2005 radio show “Guaranteed Lure” – the only lure that is guaranteed to catch fish. If you are not successful in one year we’ll give you your money back. How can you beat a deal like that.