Window of opportunity for some good fishing
By Hookemharry

Posted: August 28, 2003

There is a great, but short, window of opportunity open right now for catching brown trout on Western Montana rivers.

“If you have someone who wants to learn to fly fish or if you just want to catch some nice fish, then now is the time to hit the rivers”, reports Les Rutledge, better know as “The Fish Guy.”

“Most of the ranchers and farmers are right in the middle of haying season. They have cut their hay and have stopped irrigating the land for a short time until they can get the bales off,” says Rutledge.

“This means that the water levels on the area rivers are running higher and colder, therefore the brown trout who only a couple of weeks ago were lethargic and not wanting to move, are now more active,” he said.

Dry fly anglers are benefiting from this aggressive behavior. But as soon as the fall irrigation starts up again, it will undoubtably change the water conditions. If the weather remains hot and the flows remain low, the trout may go lethargic again.

The upper Clark Fork and Bitterroot Rivers seem to be the best places to fish.

Flathead Lake: Flathead Lake is still the place to fish for lake superior whitefish. The bite isn’t universal like it was a couple of weeks ago across the lake, but could be excellent if the conditions are just right and you hit the right spot.

Kasmasters and Rattlesnake lures seem to be working the best with a fly about a foot above the lure. One angler said they were fishing the river delta by Big Fork and they weren’t doing much, as were the other 30 boats that were fishing around them.

Then, the wind came up about noon and all of a sudden the bite was on. The fish they caught had little perch in them, so they cut them up and put pieces of the perch on the lure and fly and it really seemed to attract the fish. In fact, the pieces of perch as bait worked a lot better than the maggots that they had used earlier in the day.

By the way perch is not considered a game fish by Montana Fish Wildlife and Parks, so you can use them as cut bait. However there is a proposal to include perch as a game fish in next years regulations so if you want to comment on that proposal at the FWP regional office nearest you.

Another angler fished Saturday at the delta and didn’t fare as well. I also got another report from the Rollin area that the whitefish bite was excellent. Just keep in mind that you need patience and to move to another hole if you don’t catch anything after half-an-hour or forty-five minutes.

Helena Area Lakes:

Holter Lake walleye and trout fishing is still the best overall bet on the three big reservoirs near Helena. Fishing has also been good below Holter Dam on the Missouri River.

Come September, watch for the trout fishing to turn on at Canyon Ferry Lake. The cooler water temperatures during next month normally get some nice trout to start biting. Anglers usually have the best luck trolling north of White Earth campground to Cemetery Island.

Fort Peck salmon:

The Chinook salmon watch continues at Fort Peck Reservoir. “Not much to report. Very few salmon are being caught,” says Gene Moore from the Lakeridge.

“We thought with the way the month started, the salmon fishing would be red-hot right now.”

This week should prove to be benchmark for how the salmon fishing will be this year. All of the motels and hotels are booked for the upcoming Labor Day weekend so there will be plenty of anglers out trying their luck.

I will be over trying for the Chinooks myself so you can listen from 6 to 8 a.m. Saturday to the Montana Outdoor Radio Show on KGVO-1290AM as we will be doing show live from the Fort Peck Dam.

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