Outdoor activities will take it up a notch this weekend. It is hard for me to believe, but Labor Day Weekend is here. This Sunday, sage grouse, mountain grouse, sharp-tailed grouse and partridge 2013 upland bird seasons begin in Montana. Yes, hunting season is here, but that doesn’t mean that the anglers will put down their fishing rods. The dog days of summer are here, with the daytime temperatures in the upper 80.s and low 90.s, and fishing has slowed, but you can still wet a line and catch a fish or two.
Local outfitter John Perry had this to say about fly fishing on the local rivers and higher mountain lakes and streams. “We are still experiencing the dreaded “Dog days of summer” on the larger rivers of central and western Montana. But fish can still be caught. Here are some suggestions for Labor Day Weekend: Try to find smaller creeks that come into average size creeks-with a big shaded canopy. Look for baby waterfalls and stair stepping type of structure. Have a variety of smaller type attractor patterns like stimulators, simple ant patterns, Royal Wulffs, Humpies, and elk hair caddis. When fishing these creeks the air temps can be 20 degrees cooler than the air temps on the larger creeks or rivers that they eventually flow into. Now is a good time to venture off into the high mountain lakes. Western Montana is peppered with high mountain lakes-many of them with healthy populations of cuts and rainbows. Same patterns could be effective.
Sometimes the flies may have to be twitched a bit to entice the trout. Remember that the hoot owl hours are still in effect on most of the Clark Fork and the Bitterroot.
Some very important tributaries on the Blackfoot are now on hoot owl hours also. Keep praying for rain without lightning and cooler temperatures”.
The Helena reservoirs are a popular destination for Western Montana lake anglers. Recent reports have indicated that the trout are still deep, but can be caught trolling cowbells with spinners and worms. Rapalas are also working well trolled at 2 to 2.5 miles per hour in 25 to 30 feet of water. The walleye fishing is slow with Canyon Ferry your best bet. Try fishing mid to the southend on the reservoir, trolling crawler harnesses in the early morning or late evening.
Kokanee salmon snagging season starts September 1 on the Helena Regulating Reservoir. Limit is 35 salmon per person with 70 in possession.
Closer to Missoula, Lake Mary Ronan has been producing catches of kokanee. Flathead Lake would be as god bet to spend some time catching lake trout. Last weekend, Mike Williams caught the largest lake trout in the Great Montana Mack Attack. His 37-inch fish weighed 17.02 pounds. Renn White caught the largest whitefish, and it weighed 4.48 pounds.
The lower Flathead River should be a popular spot. Reports are the small mouth bass bite has been good. The river is running low, so try fishing the deeper holes for best results.
Whether your hunting or fishing, enjoy yourself, and remember it is very dry and fire conditions are high.
Have a safe Labor Day weekend!
(Written by the Captain; Cover photo: troutfitters.com)