Ask the Guy Next to You: Captain’s Column (4.24.14)
By angelamontana

Posted: April 24, 2014

Fishing conditions tend to change as rapidly as the spring weather we have in Montana. To prove my point, read this e-mail I received from Carolyn Persico from Rock Creek Fishermans Mercantile last Friday afternoon concerning the fishing on Rock Creek east of Missoula:

“While I was busy giving a report on Catching the Big One’s Friday, John was talking to fishermen who had fished on Thursday who reported a good hatch of Squalls and March Brown ‘s on Rock Creek.  Fishing dry flies this weekend should be good. So much for my report on the radio show earlier this morning, just shows the creek changes daily in the spring. Thought you’d like to know”.

On the Friday morning fishing show, Persico had reported that dry flies were not currently working on the Creek. In the spring, the river flow goes up and down depending on sunny or rainy weather and also how much snow is melting off the higher elevations. On the rivers, pay attention to the hatches that you see. Lakes are not much different than rivers, the key to lakes is to find out what depth fish are at in the lake.

Last week, when I went fishing on Holter Reservoir was a great example of how being at the right depth will catch you more and bigger fish. The first two days I was trolling at 2 miles per hour and had the lures and spoons that I was trolling in depths ranging from 6-13 feet deep. At those depths, I was unable to catch any trout larger than 15 inches. I knew there were larger trout, up to 20 inches, in Holter but I just couldn’t figure out why they weren’t biting.

Then, after the second day of fishing as I was sitting in my camper have a bite to eat I saw the husband of the couple camping next to me carry a couple of trout down to the water to clean them. The two trout that he was about to clean appeared to me to be 20 inches in length.

So, the next morning, I took the opportunity to ask him where he caught those fish. “I was fishing over there”, as he pointed to the clay banks across the lake. How deep were you fishing I asked, “I think about 20 feet in 45-60 feet of water”, he answered. That was all the information that I needed.

When Steve Hellegaard arrived to join me for a day of fishing later that morning, the only thing I did different than the previous two days was troll our lures and spoons deeper. That strategy paid great dividends, as we caught and released 35 trout in four hours, keeping our limit of 16 to 21 inch fish in the process. We were using the same lures and spoons and trolling the same miles per hour that I had the first two days, but the results were dramatically better, bigger fish and more of them.

So, the next time you go fishing and you are not getting the results that you want try a different depth, a different lure, a different speed or a different area of water. If after trying all that, and you still aren’t catching fish, then ask the guy that is camping next to you like I did!

(Written by the Captain)