Snow, rain, snow, rain and more snow! Does that sound familiar? This February was a very wet month in Missoula and for most of Western Montana for that matter. As of last Monday, Missoula, according to Underground Weather, had received 2.23 inches of precipitation for February. The average precipitation for February is .71 inches. What is even more impressive, with the amount of moisture that Missoula has received this year in February, only two months during the year receive on average over 2 inches of precipitation–and those months are May and June. June on average according to usclimatedata.com receives 2.09 inches and May comes in at just over 2.01 inches of precipitation in Missoula. I know we will take any additional moisture in Western Montana when we can get it no matter what time of the year it comes. All that snow and rain has made most folks including me anxious for spring but it should be a benefit for the fishing in spring and summer.
One sure sign that spring is near is the start of Catching the Big Ones radio program live at Paradise Falls. The show debuts for 2017 this Friday from 8-9am on KGVO 1290am and 98.3fm Missoula as well as KLYQ 1240am in Hamilton. The weekly radio show is beginning its 31st year on the air and features fishing reports from Western Montana along with trivia and wild game recipes.
Even though anglers are waiting for open water on lakes and reservoirs there is still some ice fishing going on in fact the Perch Pounder just got over in Region One. The month long ice fishing derby on Region One lakes takes place in February and the top 5 perch anglers were- 1st place – Royce Schlegel with a 2.186 pound perch, 2nd place – Jaime Gronley with 1.766 pound perch, 3rd place – Dave Lindholm with a 1.750 pound perch, 4th place – Ben Jore with a 1.736 pound perch, 5th place – Terry Riley with a 1.710 pound perch. They had 186 participants and raised $359.00 for Kids Hooked on Fishing. The total payout for the winning fish was $2,698. The tournament headquarters was located at the Scoreboard Pub in Kalispell.
Helena is reservoirs still have ice but you are advised to proceed with caution. I spoke with Jim Johnson from Lincoln and he said that he and his buddy Denny Peterson had a slow day on the Helena Regulating Reservoir Saturday morning and left just as anglers were starting to have success. Troy Humphrey from FWP gave us this report on the reservoir, “Kokanee action is very good with best action occurring while using jigs tipped with maggots or corn 10 to 20 feet below the ice. Perch are being caught just off the bottom in 12 to 20 feet of water. Most perch are small. There is 15 inches of good ice. Here is Humphrey’s report from Holter, “Perch fishing is good near Holter Lake Lodge, the prairie dog town and Log Gulch. The perch are being caught 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. A few rainbows are being caught near shore on jigs and maggots or egg sacks in 4 to 8 feet of water. There is about 8 to 14 inches of ice around Log Gulch, Departure Point and Holter Ramp.
(Written by Mark Ward – aka The Captain)