Labor Day weekend has arrived with plenty of choices for outdoor recreation.
For example, grouse hunting opens today with reports of bird populations being up in the region. If it’s hot, hunt early and late if you hope to catch mountain grouse in the clearings or at the edge of the timber.
This weekend, the archery season opens for deer and elk hunters — perhaps the fastest growing hunting sport in Montana. The thrill that elk hunters get by just getting close to these big bulls is reason enough archers look forward to this time of the year.
Or, if you are not going to go hunting this weekend, you can go fishing instead. From here on out, you will find less crowded lakes and streams as well as some decent fishing.
Labor weekend always seems to go fast as Montanans try and cram a lot of activity into the final three-day holiday weekend of the summer.
On the local rivers, hoppers are still the basic line of attack, although some fall hatches of mayflies and caddis are also starting to pop.
Hoppers are the way to go these days on the Clark Fork River, especially on the warm and breezy afternoons. Fishing on Rock Creek has been very good. Depending on the day you might find some baetis and or caddis hatching.
The Blackfoot River will now begin having fewer recreational floaters amid the hard-core fishermen. The cooler nights of September will help improve the fishing. Try beetles or ants and maybe even a hopper pattern on a warmer day.
The Bitterroot River is in good shape with some tricos coming off in the morning. In the afternoon, use hoppers and droppers. Two-hopper rigs with a sinking hopper as your dropper fly are especially effective.
Lake fishing remains spotty in the wake of late-summer doldrums. Georgetown Lake is an exception and is still fishing well for floaters. Damselflies seem to be your best bet.
Salmon and Seeley Lake northern pike fishing is slow but should improve into September.
The fishing is slow east of the mountains on the reservoirs near Helena. Your best bet this weekend might be to try and catch some of the kokanee salmon below Hauser Dam.
Trout fishing on all three lakes â€“ Canyon Ferry, Hauser and Holter is slow but if you go deep say 3 to 4 colors with leaded line or if you are using downriggers troll 30-40 feet and it will improve your chances.
Flathead Lake is still producing catches of Lake Superior whitefish. You will have to look around and locate them first. Recent reports are that fishing has slowed in the Big Arm and Elmo Bay areas. Try moving north to the Rollins area.
There are several spots where whitefish have been caught including in front of the Methodist camp in 50-60 feet of water. If not successful there, then head over to Woods Bay and north on the River Delta.
Once again, stay in about 50 feet of water, though you might fish a little shallower at Woods Bay. Use the Rattle-D-Zastor with a fly about 12 inches above the lure. Tip the fly with a maggot.
Good luck in whatever you choose and have a great summer-ending weekend you can remember all winter long.