Mother Nature was very good to Western Montana in respect to rainfall in October. Missoula entered the month around 2 inches behind the normal precipitation year to date, but at the end of October after receiving 2.83 inches of rain during the 31 day period as of Tuesday morning we were ahead for the year according to the Missoulian weather page. The much needed moisture in Western Montana will undoubtedly benefit the fisheries in this part of the state for the short term. I am hopeful this above average moisture continues as colder temperatures sets in to give Western Montana an above average snowpack in the higher elevations to aid the spring runoff next year.
Eastern Montana experienced above average precipitation in September and early October. As a result of these rains Fort Peck Reservoir at one point experienced an inflow as high as 55,000 cubic feet per second (cfs). The normal for that time of year is around 6,000-8,000 cfs. That tremendous above average inflow increased the water elevation to 2234.78 as November 1, which is about a foot higher than it was at the beginning of September according to U S Army Corp of engineers Missouri River Basin Bulletin. Keeping water at a constant elevation in Fort Peck over the past several years has proven to be very beneficial to that fishery as the walleye, smallmouth bass, northern pike, chinook salmon and lake trout fishing have been very good.
I know that hunting season is in full swing but fishing in the rivers and lakes can be very good this time of the year. November is always a great month to fish for the spawning lake trout in Flathead Lake. Try trolling spoons in 30 to 50 feet of water next to rocky shore lines or cast spoons into the shallower water as the lake trout begin their spawning activity.
John Perry from Johnperryflyfishing.com reports that streamer activity should be kicking in now on the rivers, “Despite high waters in western Montana-fishing reports have been pretty good especially on the Bitterroot and Rock Creek. October caddis, mahogany duns, and some bwo’s are coming out and anglers have been using their favorite patterns to get the fish. As expected, the best time of day is about 2 to 5 pm”. The best river to fish just might be the Missouri according to Perry, “The Missouri River has been very good fishing below Holter Lake to Craig area. Some dry action-but mostly nymphing with #18-20 sparsely tied darker flies”.
If you want to catch walleyes the Helena reservoirs will be hit and miss but the trout fishing continues to be good on Canyon Ferry, Hauser, and Holter. Trolling spoons or rapalas around 2 miles per hour seems to be working the best for the few anglers that are fishing now. As I mentioned the walleye fishing can be hit and miss but the few positive reports I have received have been in the mid reservoir area of Canyon Ferry Reservoir around White Earth and Goose Bay.
(Written by Mark Ward – aka the Captain)