I have written about Fort Peck Reservoir a number of times in this column over the past years. In the course of a year in my hunting and fishing travels, I get asked about this 134 miles reservoir more than any other body of water. Montana, as you know, has many great lakes to recreate during this time of the year but when you consider Fort Peck’s size and the number of species that it holds there isn’t a lake that comes close in not only Montana but states that border our state. I am writing this column as I sit in my 5th wheel in Hell Creek State Campground which is 25 miles north of Jordan.
Fort Peck Fishing with Friends and Family
I have been here a week fishing with Downrigger Dale and Steve Hellegaard who are from Missoula. Two of my brothers from South Dakota and Virginia are scheduled to arrive soon and after their 10 hour drive we will enjoy another week of fishing . As a I look out my window I can see campers with license plates from North Dakota, South Dakota, Nebraska, Wyoming, Idaho, and even as far away as Iowa. Most folks come to Hell Creek to fish for walleye, but others enjoy the northern pike, smallmouth bass, and crappie around Hell Creek . If you want to travel by water 30 miles to the east toward the dam you can even catch lake trout or even king salmon.
In fact, Bill Zahradka, a friend of mine from Wolf Point, texted me that last weekend his son and him landed 50 lake trout and 7 king salmon. The Fort Peck fishing frenzy has been caught by tournament anglers too!
Fort Peck Fishing Tournaments
This year the Montana Walleye Governors Cup fishing tournament filled up in April. The 200 two person team tourney will be held July 7-9th. Two weeks ago Rock Creek Marina which is located on the dry arm of Fort Peck hosted a walleye tournament that had 96 teams competing.
There are also numerous bass tournaments on Fort Peck throughout the summer, and the Pike Masters out of Billings had a tournament just last weekend out of Rock Creek. Big water, big fish and lots of them add up to big money for the marinas, convenience stores, grocery stores and many other local retailers that try to make a living in small towns that border this massive sized body of water.
Fort Peck Marinas
Clint and Deb Thomas have owned Hell Creek Marina for quite a few years. Their “How Can I help” attitude has helped many fisherman when they have had an equipment failure.
Just this week alone, I saw Clint lend a helping hand to three boaters who would have had to pack and go home if it wasn’t for his knowledge on how to fix a problem on their boats and a boat trailer. Mary Beth Kibler told me that her charter service based out of Hell Creek is sold out for the rest of the month of June and into the first part of July. If you are new to fishing Fort Peck, I think it is a good idea to hire an outfitter the first day you arrive. They will help you break the lake down in areas that you might fish in any given day.
Plan your trip to include several days, and do some research on where you want to stay whether it might be a state or federal or a private campground. June is probably the best month to fish Fort Peck for walleye but also other months can be good for northern pike and smallmouth bass fishing like September and less crowded at the campgrounds.
(Written by the Captain – aka Mark Ward)