Lake fishing right now is pretty good in a lot of places in Montana.
At least, the fishing reports from most of the waters have been fair to good.
Out East on Fort Peck Reservoir, the reports on the Chinook salmon run this year are more than encouraging. Anglers are starting to pick up salmon off the face of the dam and with numbers of anglers increasing, the catches appear to be increasing as well.
Like any trophy fishery – and these Chinooks are a great trophy fish – not everyone is catching them every day. But there are enough two and three Chinook catches by individual boats and singles spread around that salmon fishermen are turning out and trying their luck.
Last year, you may recall, the prediction for the salmon run on the lake was excellent. But because of elements that nobody could explain, that run never did materialize.
Some of those fish which were supposed to return last year are showing up now. Those four-year-old Chinooks are running over 20 pounds with the biggest one caught through last weekend tipping the scales at 24 pounds.
Dave Waterson, who runs Fort Peck Marina, feels there will be fish pushing 30 pounds or more caught before the year is over.
The bulk of the salmon being caught are three-year-olds which are running 12 to 16 pounds and, in salmon parlance, they’re very “bright.” That means they’re showing no signs of the spawn yet. As it gets closer to the spawning time in November, the condition of the salmon deteriorates as they prepare to complete their life cycle.
Salmon anglers are also reporting some good catches of lake trout as well. Fort Peck has a very good, but lightly fished, lake trout population. Many of these fish are running 8 to 16 pounds.
The prediction from the Fort Peck Country is that the fishing will improve as the weeks of August pass. into September. I will keep you updated every week in this column as well as the Montana Outdoor Radio Show with live reports starting this Saturday.
Closer to Missoula, the fishing at Holter Lake is good early in the morning for both walleye and rainbow trout. The trout and salmon fishing is also not bad at night according to Paul at the Canyon Store at Wolf Creek.
Remember, you can’t fish between midnight and 3 a.m. if you are night fishing on Holter Lake.
Below Holter Dam on the Missouri the trout fishing has been pretty good.
Lisa, at the Silos RV, says fishing has slowed a bit on Canyon Ferry Lake. The hot weather is driving the fish deeper she says. Walleye fishing is slow and the trout fishing is a little better on the north end of the lake by White Earth.
Lake Francis has been slow for everything except perch fishing so far this month. The northern pike and walleyes have not been biting at all. Dallas Denter, from Chester, says the walleyes are biting at Tiber Dam. “You won’t catch a whole lot of them but the ones they are catching are nice fish, generally running in the 16-18 inch class”. Says Dentner.
Salmon Lake has been producing some kokanee salmon for the anglers that know what they are doing, according to Bob Harlock, from Seeley Lake (406-677-2335).
They are also catching an occasional northern pike in the Clearwater River early in the morning and late in the evening. Mountain lakes have also been producing some nice trout as well.
The lake superior whitefish are still biting pretty well on Flathead Lake. Five of us went up last Wednesday and caught 40 in the Big Arm. Reports are that some anglers catches in that area have slowed down. Anglers fishing off Woods Bay and north on the mouth on the river delta have had good catches in the last few days.