Outdoor shows a big hit in Montana
By Hookemharry

Posted: March 28, 2002

The Montana Outdoor Recreation Exposition I attended last weekend in Billings was a rousing success. Organizers of the three-day show were pleased with the attendance. The show, which normally would be held in the Expo Center, was held in the main arena at MetraPark.

The American Bowling Congress was holding its national tournament in the Expo Center. The ABS set up 48 temporary bowling lanes in the building. The lanes will be set up for about six months as the competition goes around the clock with bowlers from across the USA.

Needless to say, the economy of Billings is benefiting from the many thousands of out-of-town guests. Could Missoula ever host such an event? I have said it before, and it deserves repeating, if we build a convention center they will come and it would be one of many events that would be right down the alley, so to speak.

The Missoulian’s Big Sky Sport and Outdoor Show, which begins Friday, April 5, and runs through Sunday, April 7, is another prime candidate for such a facility. Both last year’s Missoulian show and the MORE show in Billings prove that if you have the right facilities the outdoors people will definitely come to see them.

As spring weather has been a little late in arriving this year, the good fishing has been slow in coming as well. The weather forecast does look more encouraging for spring in the next week, so look for the fishing action to get better.

The ice is still pretty decent on East Bay on Flathead Lake and there are some monster perch to be had if you can find them, according to the latest report from Dick Zimmer of Pablo. Your best bet is to find a weed bed in a depth of six feet of water. Zimmer recommends using a Ž-ounce No. 0 Glow Trilobite tipped with only two maggots, on only one hook of the treble hook. This will keep the action of the lure going while still maintaining a good target for the fish. After ice-out in about a month, the spring perch fishing on Flathead Lake should be as good as it has been in a while.

Lake trout fishing is good in front of Rocky Point, Zimmer says. The area has a high concentration of hungry lakers in about 50 to 100 feet of water. Tip your lure with a small amount of cut bait. Zimmer also cautions that the boat ramps could be icy this time of the year, so take some sand or cat litter along to create traction and be careful.

Bitterroot Lake continues to produce good catches of fish. Angler Doug White caught some nice salmon on the lake using a size 12 green chartreuse Glo Hook with a bead attractor. He was in front of the dam in the 70-to 80-foot depth.

Jim Vashro, regional fisheries manager for Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks in Kalispell, says the salmon are feeding on mysis shrimp. This might explain their large size and why they are close to the bottom.

For more information, Dick Zimmer can be reached at 675-0068 or e-mail: macman@ronan.net.

Western Montana insect hatches are starting to come alive on the rivers. Doug Persico from Rock Creek Fisherman’s Mercantile tells me that fishing is improving with the weather. Skwalas have been seen on the Bitterroot River and a few March Browns have been spotted on Rock Creek. Fly fishers are catching some trout too, according to Persico. Just remember that catch-and-release regulations for trout are in place when fishing area rivers and streams. Persico can be reached at 825-6440.

Have a happy Easter.