It has finally arrived! The official opening day of the Montana fishing season is Saturday. All the creeks, rivers and some lakes that have been closed will now be fishable again this weekend.
Well, let me put this way. They will be fishable legally if you hold a 2006 fishing license.
From the way it looks right now, the fishing will be one thing, The catching, however, may be something else with challenging conditions on most of the creeks and rivers in Western Montana.
The opening this year has coincided with the hottest temperatures (in the 80s) of the year and that will certainly start the best spring run-off Western Montana rivers have experienced in a few years. Expect most creeks and rivers to be high, muddy and hard to fish.
Lake anglers should not be affected by the high water, and should enjoy the high-pressure system and its warmth as it helps them reel in more fish.
The lakes east of the mountains, north of Helena, should continue to be excellent fishing. Canyon Ferry Lake is still producing trout by trolling Rapalas 10 to 25 feet deep. Trolling speed should range from 2 to 2.5 miles per hour.
Walleye fishing has been slow, but as the water starts to warm up, this lake gets better as the fish gravitate towards the south end. Look for Memorial Day Weekend to start the big walleye bite on Canyon Ferry. But if the water warms to 60 degrees, it could start sooner.
Hauser Reservoir is still a good bet for trout. Walleye fishing has also been slow, but you still might want to try the Causeway for both walleye and trout.
Holter Lake has been excellent for trout fisherman trolling around the Split Rock area into the main lake. Walleye fishing has been slow but should start to pick up soon.
Georgetown Lake opens this Saturday. Fishing should be good. Many anglers like to troll or use float tubes there. It might be a good option for frustrated fly anglers because of the high water they will be facing with the local rivers.
Northern Pike anglers have been doing well in the Seeley and Salmon Lake area. The pike have been aggressive.
Browns Lake might be another place to try some trout fishing. Anglers seem to be having luck trolling a leech pattern fly two to three colors on a 40 to 50 foot leader. Midge wobblers are also working.
Flathead Lake anglers can choose between perch and lake trout fishing. From now until the end of Jun,e lake trout will be feeding in the shallows on nearly the whole western side of the lake with Big Arm Bay, Elmo Bay, in between Cromwell and Wild Horse Island, the Narrows area, The Shelter-Cedar Island area, and the river mouth being good bets.
Dick Zimmer of Pablo recommends trolling with a large perch imitation Rapala or spoon in 10 to 80 feet of water. If you want to jig for the lake trout, then use light head jigs baited with cut bait or with a whole bait fish 6-12 inches in length.
Perch fishing has slowed in East Polson Bay but if the weather is nice, it might be a nice option to take the kids.
West of the big lake, Lake Mary Ronan might be a good bet to try for kokanee. They have not been fished yet this year and the opening day might find the salmon a little hungry and not as smart as they are sometimes later in the year.
The Montana Outdoor Radio Show will travel to Lake Kookanusa for the fourth annual Trout and Salmon Derby. The derby runs Saturday and Sunday and organizers expect 400 anglers to compete. Call 406-293-7474 if you want to enter or obtain more information.
The statewide hunting and fishing show will be broadcast from the lake’s resort and marina Saturday morning from 6 to 8 a.m.. We will also have fishing reports from throughout the state as well.
Have a great fishing weekend and always remember to take a kid fishing with you!