Enjoy Montana in the new year
By Hookemharry

Posted: January 1, 2009

It is the beginning of a New Year so hearty, happy wishes for 2009 are in order. Are you in the process of making a New Year resolution? Or maybe you have already decided on what exciting new activity you might try for 2009?

Last year posed some challenges to being an active sportsman in Montana. For most of the year, the gas and diesel prices were at all-time highs, which made for getting to and from your outdoor recreation spot a little more expensive.

The good news right now is that it does not take two credit cards to fill your pickup truck. The price of getting to your destination hasn’t been this low for a long time. Let’s hope it stays that way for the upcoming year.

The snow that we have received over the past holiday week has been wonderful. Alpine and cross-country skiers certainly are having a great time. Snowmobilers were out riding the mountain trails and I saw quite a few folks with their kids heading for the local sled hills to enjoy an afternoon outside.

Ice fisherman are also out with their augers drilling holes in lakes around Western Montana. If you want to try your luck in an ice fishing derby this Saturday, Jan. 3, then head for Smith Lake for the Perch Assault. Contact Mike Howe at 406-249-0556.

Another fun derby that you should put on your calendar is a little closer to Missoula. It’s the Pike on Ice derby and it will take place on Salmon and Seeley Lake on Jan. 17-18. Toby Bedard has done a good job of building the popularity of this ice fishing derby and whether your method is spearing or using tip-ups, you have a good chance of winning some cash and prizes. Bedard can be reached at 406- 370-8396.

Some other lakes that are a good bet for ice anglers might be Browns Lake up by Ovando for trout, Lake Mary Ronan for perch and salmon and, of course, Georgetown Lake for trout and salmon.

If you want to take advantage of the low fuel prices, then head over to Fort Peck Reservoir’s Hell Creek area which is 25 miles north of Jordan. Tiffany Thomas and her brother Layne caught a couple of really nice walleyes over Christmas Eve and day. Layne caught a 28.5 inch walleye that weighed 8.1 pounds on Christmas Eve and then his sister outdid him the next day with a monster 12.7 pound walleye that measured 32 inches. You can view those two fish and their bundled up ice anglers on www.montanaoutdoor.com

Still looking for a New Year’s Resolution? Well, the Missoula Trap and Skeet Club will host a NRA shotgun coach’s school on the weekend of Jan. 10-11. Successful graduates will receive NRA Level One coach credentials. NRA National Coach Trainer Paul McGinnis will conduct the class. The cost is $135. You must pre register. To find out more contact Steve Sautter 406-543-7432.

Have a safe and Happy New Year!