The inside scoop on Helena area fishing
By Hookemharry

Posted: April 26, 2001

One of the best parts of putting together a statewide radio program like the Montana Outdoor Radio Show is that I get a chance to visit with hunters and fishermen all around this big state.

I spent last weekend in Helena at the annual Outdoor Expo put on by Channel 12. While there, I had a chance to talk to some of the local fishing experts on the radio show on Saturday during a live broadcast.

Helena Independent Record outdoor writer Tom Mendyke was one of those people and he helped recap some of the bills that had gone through the legislature and offered up these tips on fishing the in his area.

Mendyke says that most of the ice is off the area lakes, but he does caution boaters that are going to be fishing Canyon Ferry Reservoir. He says there may still be some ice in the middle of the lake from White Earth Campground on north.

Precipitation remains a problem in the area as it is in much of the state, according to Mendyke, but he says it has improved quite a bit this month. Year-to-date the Helena area has received almost double the precipitation that it got last year from January 1 through April 22. The bad news is it still short about a half-an-inch from the average year-to-date precipitation the area is suppose to receive.

Mendyke also said that he has talked to the Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks fisheries biologist Steve Dalby about the kokanee salmon – or should I say the lack of salmon – in Hauser.

Dalby, according to Mendyke, is pulling his hair out trying to figure out why the salmon they planted since 1996 in Hauser, which use to bill itself the Kokanee Capital of the US, haven’t been showing up for fishermen in the lake.

Rainbow trout stocked in the reservoir, on the other hand, are showing up for fishermen. Clete Daily, from Lakeside Resort, says they are catching plump, one-pound, pan-sized trout this spring from shore.

Some of the local anglers still think the salmon are in Hauser. They just aren’t biting. These same anglers claim their fishfinder goes black when marking schools of salmon in certain parts of the lake.

By the way, Daily mentioned that there will once again be the annual Sunrise Rotary Fishing Derby in June on Hauser. This year the one-day tourney will be Saturday June 16.

Reg Brewer, who also stopped by to visit, told me the trout are biting like crazy right now on Canyon Ferry Lake. Brewer says they are the nicest trout he has seen in years. You can troll for them using an orange Rapala or try fishing from shore using egg sacks.

Mike Sedlock, the local Walleyes Unlimited chapter president from Helena, said the walleye fishing has been good below both Hauser and Holter Dams.

Canyon Ferry, on the other hand, is tough for walleyes at this time of year, Sedlock said. Most local walleye anglers, he said, will fish north of White Earth Campground all the way to the cabins on the west side of the lake. The best method for anglers has been jigging with a very slow presentation.

He also noted that the Canyon Ferry Walleye Festival this year will be July 21-22. Doug Breker is once again the tourney director and he can be contacted at 406-266-5279 if you are interested in entering. The tourney is limited to 135 teams.

In short, the folks in Helena report that the trout fishing has been fairly good on all three reservoirs. This is the time of the year they spawn so shore fishing with egg sacks is sometimes just as effective as fishing from a boat and trolling one of those orange Rapalas.

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