On-again, off-again fishing of spring
By Hookemharry

Posted: May 3, 2001

There is nothing quite like fishing in Montana in spring!

One day, it’s red hot. The next day you can hardly buy a bite.

If you like fishing the local rivers, your success or lack of it, depends on the clarity of the water. Spring run-off combined with recent rains have made for muddy rivers. When this happens and you are itching to go fishing, your best luck might just be in the river backwaters.

Rock Creek is usually the last to blow out with runoff, so check in with Doug Persico at Rock Creek Fisherman Mercantile (825-6440). He will let you know about the water condition and what might be the best fly to use and what time of day to use it.

Neil Cote, from Bob Wards, says the Flathead River is low near Perma. It is also fishing pretty slow for northern pike and smallmouth bass. Cote recommends when fishing for northern pike, to look for shallow water on shallow flats that are surrounded by some weeds.

Ice is off at Browns Lake and a few trout are being caught. Cote thinks the action on Browns should be picking up as the weather gets warmer.

Walleyes are now spawning over in the Helena area reservoirs. It should be about two to three weeks before they start to get on the bite again.

Cote says he has had some luck recently at Milltown Dam fishing for northern pike. He says the pike are small at about 20-24 inches.

Perch are starting to bite on Flathead Lake. Dick Zimmer said the bite really depends on the surface water temperature. When the bite was on last Sunday, the water temperature was around 53-55 degrees.

Zimmer said they started to catch some perch but were then blown off the lake by big winds. Polson Bay is where you will have the best luck for perch.

Zimmer recommends using a yellow Flash n’ Glow with a bobber, tipping the bait with part of a nightcrawler. Perch have been running up to 11 inches. Zimmer also added that the lake trout fishing is also still pretty good on Flathead Lake.

Chris Gehrke, from Hi Basin Sports in Seeley Lake, reports the ice is off the area lakes. He says fishing, for the most part, has been pretty slow. He suggests bottom fishing Powerbait or a nightcrawler from shore in the cove by Lindeys Steakhouse. You might catch one of those trout that they planted last December.

Gehrke also says you might try the same technique for those planters at Harpers Lake. If you can fish from a boat, however, Gehrke thinks you will have a better chance of catching some fish.

Remember Georgetown Lake is closed till Saturday May 19th.


IDAHO REPORT: The salmon fishing has been slowed by high and muddy water in Idaho. Stu Kestner tells me that when it rains, the waters always get dirty and unproductive for salmon anglers. He thinks the water will clear by this weekend.

Salmon have been coming over the lower dams in record numbers. I would recommend you call Kestner at 208-476-5418 for water conditions and an up to date fishing report before you head over to Orofino.