The cooler weather that we have experienced in September has been a nice change from the warmer days not so long ago. The cooler weather has been beneficial for both hunters and anglers. The grouse hunters in Western Montana that I have spoken with tell me that the birds they are finding are in the creek bottoms feeding on berries. The cooler days are also helping their hunting dogs not only find the birds but it keeps the dogs from over- heating in the field. Archery hunters say the cooler and wet weather enables them to hunt both deer and elk better. I have also heard reports of elk bugling and if you are an elk hunter you know what that means, the rut is not far away.
Anglers are also seeing the benefit of cooler weather the rivers are low but the water temperature is also dropping and that means you should expect some good fall fishing. The folks at Rock Creek Fisherman Mercantile posted this report on their web site last Monday concerning the fishing conditions on Rock Creek, “The water temps have cooled significantly in the past few weeks, and bigger fish have been moving throughout the day as a result. If it’s warm enough, you can still use grasshopper or other terrestrial patterns, but for the most part, we’ve given way to our staple fall fishing patterns. Try elk hair caddis, October caddis, Mahogany Duns, or BWOs for your dry flies. Nymphing and streamer fishing is also doing really well now. Of course, our Wonderbugger patterns are great options this time of year, but you can also fish Hare’s Ear droppers or our own Orange Serendipity pattern, which resembles the October caddis nymph well”
Small mouth bass anglers are doing very well on the south end of Flathead lake in East Polson Bay according to Dick Zimmer from Zimmers Tackle in Pablo,“ Well “good “has progressed to beyond “better “on the verge of “Best”. Recently while I was fishing for bait fish, I hooked and landed close to 30 smallies from 5 inches to near 3 lbs. using a size 10 smile’ hook baited with maggots. I also filled a cooler full of multi-sized bait fish”, reported Zimmer. By the way if you’re interested Zimmer will pay 40 cents a pound for pike minnows over 9 inches and 35 cents each for fish 9” and under. Who says it doesn’t pay to fish?
The smallmouth is good on the lower Flathead River. The river is low so be careful while launching your boat.
John Harris from the Lakeside Resort in Trout Creek tells me that the northern pike are hitting pretty good now on Noxon Reservoir. Harris says that anglers recently have brought a handful of pike over 20 pounds into the store.
This is also the time that the rainbow trout fishing starts to pick up on the reservoirs over in the Helena area. The bigger trout start to feed aggressively and run shallow. In past Septembers I have had good luck trolling for trout at 9 to 15 feet depth over 90 feet of water between split rock and the lower campground on Holter Reservoir.
One final note if you plan on hunting over by the dam on Fort Peck Reservoir throw in your fishing rod because they are now catching Chinook salmon casting from shore according to Eddie Mindt from the Lake Ridge Lodging and Bait Shop.
(Written by the Captain – aka Mark Ward)