There is more than one way to tell that spring is just around the corner. Oh sure you can peek at the calendar and it will tell you that next Monday is the official first day of spring. When they make you move your clocks ahead an hour like we all had to last weekend that will make your think that spring is near too! But the way I know that spring is upon us is Troy Humphrey from FWP sends his weekly ice fishing report of the season for the Helena Area Reservoirs and puts the disclaimer on it stating that this will be the last fishing report of the season. Ending his ice fishing report might work at the end of most Montana winters but this year just might be the exception. Oh, sure ice fishing conditions are beginning to get iffy so by all means please be careful if you are going to venture out on the ice. Lakes like Georgetown Lake are still showing thick ice and will be for a few more weeks and with the temperatures last weekend in the eastern part of the state dipping to near zero I am sure it felt more like ice making weather than ice melting conditions.
There also was a report that the boat ramp at the Gates of the Mountain on Holter Reservoir was open last week but with the colder temperatures you might want to call before you drag your boat over. So just in case you are wondering about that final ice fishing report here is what Humphrey had to say about the fishing on Holter Reservoir, “Perch fishing is good in the lower reservoir anywhere from 10 to 45 feet of water on jigs and maggots or worms, so most anglers are moving around until they find the schools. Rainbow fishing is good around Gates of the Mountains and in the lower reservoir while fishing with jigs and worms 3 to 6 feet below the ice. Ice conditions are deteriorating with open water along shore making access difficult. Ice is quite variable and rapidly becoming too unstable to access”. Here is his report on Hauser this week, “Rainbow fishing is good in open water at the Causeway Bridge, York Bridge and below Canyon Ferry Dam on egg sacks, flies or worms. Ice fishing for rainbows through the ice at Black Sandy is slow. The remaining ice in the Causeway is extremely unstable. At Black Sandy there is 10 to 12 inches of good ice, but conditions are changing daily”.
Canyon Ferry? Well according to Humphrey there is no report for this week. So my advice is while you are waiting for first ice off now is the time to begin going through your tackle box and tackle. Head down to your favorite fishing tackle store and stock up on the items that you need and take a look at what is new for 2017. Also while you are preparing for the first trip of spring make sure you check the bearings on your boat trailer, as well as the lights, and check the charge on your boat battery.
The ice will give way to open water before you know it and you might as well be ready to go fishing when it does.
(Written by Mark Ward aka the Captain)