March has arrived and it’s a time of change.
Most of the boat shows are over and were successful by most accounts. The new hunting and fishing license year has arrived, complete with some new fees. And, for me, it marks the start of my 21st year of Catchin the Big Ones, a local radio show on KGVO from 8 to 9 a.m. Fridays.
Yes indeed, March has arrived.
With it, the days are getting longer and the temperatures are slowing climbing. March is a transition month for outdoor activities in Montana. That means you can still enjoy the recreation of winter while slowly moving toward the warm months.
There is still great skiing, both alpine and cross-country. Ice fishing has actually picked up and gotten safer on some lakes thanks to the cold blast we received two weekends ago.
River fly-fishers are busy tying new patterns and will get more active as we get closer to the end of the month. And the steelhead fishing is still good on the Clearwater River in Idaho.
As of Feb. 26, the Idaho Fish and Game weekly Steelhead fishing reported that 182 anglers surveyed fished 732 hours and caught and kept 46 fish while released another 29 for a total of 75. That comes out to one fish for every 10 hours of fishing.
One of the last of the states ice fishing derbies ended last weekend with the Perch Pounder winding up on all waters in FWPs Region 1.
“A total of 240 anglers competed in this years Perch Pounder,” said Gene Fincher, Derby organizer. “We were very happy with the turnout this year.”
The highlight of this years Perch Pounder had to be that a new state record perch was caught and entered into the event. Needless to say, it also was the biggest perch caught during the 25-day derby.
Josh Emmert caught the perch out of Lower Stillwater Lake on Feb. 19. The fish weighed in at 2.39 pounds, was 14-3/8 inches long and had a 12-3/16- inch girth. The new state record perch just nipped the old record perch, which weighed 2.37 pounds and was caught out of Ashley Lake in 1988.
The five largest perch in the derby split $2,400 in cash. If you want to see the new state record perch log onto www.montanaoutdoor.com.
The winter sports show season is winding down with the March 10-12 Great Rockies Sport Show, which will be held at the Majestic Valley Arena, north of Kalispell and Whitefish.
This will be the last show for the 2006 season that Bill Reier, Jr., out of Bozeman, will be producing. Reier decided not to do a show in Missoula this year.
So if you have a chance to take this one in, it will be worth the trip. The Montana Outdoor Radio Show will be broadcasting live on Saturday morning March 11 from 6-8am. We will have a chance to talk to some of the seminar speakers who participate in the three day expo that include local experts Chef Vince Pernicano on wild game cooking and Jeff Smith on dog training.
The Montana Outdoor Radio Show can be heard every Saturday on 880 KJJR in Kalispell, 750 KERR in Polson, 1240 KLYQ in Hamilton, and of course 1290 KGVO in Missoula.
One last reminder, if March indeed provides us with boating weather, is that you need to get a free registration sticker from FWP this year for your boats. The sticker is good for three years and is required so FWP can get federal matching funds.
You will need your hull ID number and title number to get the decals. You can learn more about it by going to FWP regional offices. Or, you can get it online by going to www.fwp.mt.gov.