Western Montana has had a very good accumulation of snow this past week. In fact, since February began, we have more than made up for the lack of snow fall we received in January. Even though it is very early in the year, Missoula is ahead of the average precipitation year to date. That is good news when you compare it to last year, as Missoula was more than 3 inches behind the average annual precipitation. So, at least we are off to a positive start for the year. Warmer temperatures this week have been welcomed by ice fisherman and outdoor enthusiasts in general.
“Ice fishing on Fort Reservoir has been very good on Devils Creek and Fourchette Bay for northern pike,” reports Dale from Don’s Sporting Goods in Lewistown. “The walleye anglers are also starting to pick up a few mostly jigging an hour and half before sunrise and an hour and half after sunset”, he said. The colder weather made some good ice all over the state. “Holter Reservoir now has ice on it again and I have heard that some perch as big as a pound are biting around the Split Rock area”, said Leonard Roberts from Roberts Bait and Tackle in Great Falls. Log Gulch on Holter has 6-8 inches of ice according to Roberts. West of Missoula on Noxon Reservoir the ice fishing reports have been coming in a little slow but with the warmer weather John Harris from Trout Creek expects the perch fishing to pick up.
“When the local rivers start to get rid of their ice from last week I would expect the whitefish to start biting again”, reported Bill Brown from Bob Wards in Missoula. “if you want to ice fish then I might suggest Browns Lake, I would fish off the bottom with flies or small jigs tipped with a maggot”, said Brown. Harpers Lake also was stocked in January and those trout are starting to bite, plus they are pretty good size. Brown also reported that the East Polson Bay of Flathead Lake is a good place to try and catch a lake trout. They are shallow looking for the perch so ice anglers are using cut-bait with the Zimmer tackle jigs or their whole bait set-up. “The ice is also good on Pablo, and Kicking Horse and the perch fishing has been very good”, said Brown. Ninepipes might be another place to try if you are looking to catch bass through the ice.
The Perch Pounder is in its second week, and, so far, 100 anglers have signed up, according to Gene Fincher. Kevin Kleist is in first place after two weeks with a 1.758 pound perch. Gary Hembd is in second place, just behind Kleist with a 1.742 pound perch. Both anglers caught their perch last weekend to move into the top two spots. You can still enter the Perch Pounder that goes until February 22nd. If you catch a perch that weighs more than the current state record and are entered in the derby, you will win an extra $500 The current state record perch is 2.39 pounds and was caught by Josh Emmert out of Lower Stillwater Lake during the Perch Pounder back in February 19, 2006.
(Written by the Captain)