Going to Fort Peck Reservoir during spring is always a little chancy when you consider the unpredictable weather.
Two weeks ago for example, Mark Henckel, the outdoor editor from the Billings Gazette, was met with nearly an inch of rain and winds that didnâ€™t let up until it was about time to head back to Billings. In two-and-a-half days, he got in about five hours of fishing before breaking camp and heading home.
That is the gamble when you only go for only two or three days. The rain and wind of spring can cut deeply into your fishing time.
Wayne Knudson (Walleye Wayne) and I were invited to fish with Marvin and Connie Loomis from Trophy Fishing of Fort Peck Lake. We headed out last Tuesday and landed in their floating fishing camp that night.
After our seven-hour drive, Marvin met us to transport us the rest of the way to the lake from the ranch that his father in law, John Trumbo, owns. Marvin said the dreaded words, â€œIt sure is a beautiful eveningâ€?, as we loaded our fishing gear into his Suburban.
That was all it took to kick Mother Nature in gear. Moments after making that remark, the wind picked up and never seemed to stop during the next three days. It sometimes gusted up to 35 miles per hour and more.
The wind made the lake look like a bunch of wayward sheep occupied it. Herds and herds of those white water sheep rode the waves, disappearing one-by-one, then appearing again on the wave tops.
Windy weather made for tough boat control and even tougher fishing. The wind also made it seem much colder than it was and when the sun peaked through the clouds the first two days every once in a while, all of us fishing on the rocking boat didnâ€™t want it to go away.
Finally, on Friday, it came out and stayed. Unfortunately, however, the fishing didnâ€™t get any sunnier than it had been amid the clouds.
Marvin, who knows the lake well after fishing and guiding for the past 10 plus years, did manage to catch and release a 10, 8.5, and an 8-pounder during the three days that we spent on the water. Unfortunately, Walleye Wayne and I arenâ€™t that good.
Marvin loves to jig this time of the year on Fort Peck. He uses chartreuse colored jigs accompanied by the Headlight Fiber Optic fishing system and Mr. Twister tail tipped with a live minnow.
This year he is also trying out Berkley new Gulp Bait. It is bait that is actually made of fish food and then processed in very bright colors.
Marvin caught one of those big walleyes on bright orange Gulp bait that was under a chartreuse jig and tipped with a live minnow.
The talk around the lake is that things are picking up a little this year for some of the outfitters and business people that cater to fisherman. Marvin and Connie are looking forward to having their best year in the last three years.
The water level has been rising a bit in recent weeks and there is still more than enough water to fish.
Most boat ramps from Bone trail on down to the dam are useable. Rock Creek Marina, which is located on the Big Dry Arm of the lake is now open again after being closed last year.
If you would like to talk to Marvin and Connie Loomis about a guided trip to Fort Peck Reservoir you can call them at 406-557-2787. As they say on their voice mail when you call, â€œWe are fishing out on the lake right now and will get back to you when we return.â€?
Out on their houseboat fishing camp, there is no phone or cell phone coverage to speak of. It is a great getaway. And I have caught good fish there in the past, when the winds werenâ€™t quite so windy.