Bob Ward’s Sports & Outdoors Recreation Report 3.4.2020
By angelamontana

Posted: March 4, 2020

You still have tons of options to get out and enjoy early spring!!! There is awesome spring skiing, shed horn hikes, and a bunch of spring fishing that will be kicking off in the next few weeks!!!

Fishing Reports:

Rivers

Clarkfork-the afternoons have been good for nymphing and some dry fly action!!! Sqwalla action is probably just days away if we get a few warm days. Midges and winter Nemora and Capnia are also out and getting the fish to look up!! Pheasant Tails, Prince, and all the basic patterns are good bets for sticking a few Whitefish and a Rainbow or two as well.

Rock Creek- Same as the Clark, with a little more snow and shore ice.

Bitterroot- Nymphing is the ticket here, afternoons are best. Also some streamer fishing in the deeper holes. Sqwalla hatch is going to happen any day, so look for fish slurping, and target them. Don’t forget to drop a decent sized stonefly nymph below to get the ones that might have been stuck by a dry already.

Blackfoot- Started up pretty good last week with nymphing, but a lot of the Lower River is still shaded for most of the day. Bigger stonefly nymphs fished deep are a good first choice and swinging big streamers always produce a big brown or two.

Lakes

Georgetown- fishing on and off. Probably best ice locally. All the basics like jigging spoons and spawn sacs for the Rainbows, for Kokanee try using a short dropper below a jigging spoon with a smaller ice jig tipped with maggots or a piece of cocktail shrimp. Jig aggressively then let it pause to trigger them. There is slush in spots, be careful driving sleds and quads, and you should throw a snow shovel in both for digging out and making a mound to put your ice house on!!!

Browns- Ice is OK, and the smaller Rainbows planted last fall are starting to hit pretty good on some days.

Salmon- decent ice in most places, but fishing has been hit and miss. Pike are moving from the deeper areas up to the 10’-12’ range right at daylight. Dead sticking smelt with quick strike rigging is a pretty bomb proof tactic for late ice. Target the first breaks coming up from the deep basins for perch. 20’-25’ are a good starting point, but make sure not to try and release them as barotrama will kill them when you bring them up from that deep!! Get your fish for eating and stop. Northland forage minnow jigheads in orange and green tipped with maggots or a perch eye fished right on the bottom.

Seeley- has decent ice, but be very careful near the inlet and outlet, it can get thin quick. Same as Salmon Lake for the tactics.

Helena area

Lots of options for open water action!!!

Holter (Upper)- Gates of the Mountains boat launch is open!!! Which means both Awesome Rainbow fishing and targeting pre spawn Walleye!!! For the Walleye, head straight out from the Gates boat launch and find the channel running from upstream. Use 3/8 to 1/4oz jigheads tipped with 3-4” soft plastic Berkley minnow bodies. White, pearl, and chartreuse are all good. Snap jig them about 6-12” and let them fall back to the bottom. It can be slow Fishing, but there are some giants there so be patient. Trout will also hit that rig, but if you long line troll or cast Rapalas you will get a faster response. Don’t forget casting marabou jigs to the banks, and stripping buggers and big streamers. Also throwing a night crawler or spawn sac out from the bank can be deadly as well.

Holter(Lower)- still some ice fishing going on here, but don’t chance going out to far. Ice conditions are changing rapidly.

Canyon Ferry- ice fishing on the south end is still descent, from the Silos south to the Duck ponds. Rainbows are hitting marabou jigs fished just below the ice. Perch and a few smaller Walleye are being caught fishing right on the bottom. The north end of the lake has open water, and casting bait or Spoons and Rapalas will get you some fish for sure.

Hauser-look for the fishing below Canyon Ferry dam to take off as the water temps come up in the next few weeks. Drifting spawn sacs and marabou jigs below slip bobbers will get some big Rainbows!!

Casting marabou jigs against the banks as the ice melts is also a deadly tactic.

(Report by Neal Cote)