Spring turns thoughts to fishing
By Hookemharry

Posted: March 11, 2004

All it takes is a little warm sun, a gentle breeze and the hint of new green growth and spring weather can whip up a red-hot case of cabin fever.

I was in Kalispell last weekend for their three-day hunting and fishing show. And some of them are already making the most of the nicer days we’ve been having. Even those who haven’t been out yet were talking about fishing in the summer ahead.

Most people who had been fishing already told me they were doing fairly well. A snowstorm had hit the area Friday night and Saturday morning which can happen at this changing of the seasons. But then spring returned for the rest of the weekend.

Signs that we’re heading to open-water fishing and tolerable weather for camping are coming in from all across the state.

Reports from Marvin Loomis were that Fort Peck Reservoir’s ice was starting to rot. Loomis estimated that the lake is 10 feet lower than at this time last year.

With big snows in northeastern Montana, flood warnings are out for the Milk River, north of Fort Peck Reservoir. The hope is most of that excess water on the south side of the Milk River divide will run into the big lake and boost its level.

The real issue with wateron Fort Peck, however, is that the Army Corps of Engineers keeps letting it out a faster rate than it comes in. That’s an ongoing problem that doesn’t seem to have any short term or long term solution at this point.

If there’s any good news in the Fort Peck situation, it’s that the Corps stands ready to extend boat ramps as soon as the ice goes off and keep the ramps usable throughout the summer. Another bit of good news is that with poor reproduction of forage fish, FWP biologist Mike Ruggles thinks the fishing is going to be good this summer. There won’t be much else for the fish to bite on other than anglers’ lures.

The Flathead Lake area also has a quite a few warm water-fishing anglers. Most of these go east to satisfy the itch to catch walleyes. The Kalispell chapter of Walleyes Unlimited will be holding its banquet later this month and they are expecting close to 500 to attend.

Fishing reports out of Flathead Lake have been good. Most of the anglers I talked to fish the north end of the lake. Jim Landwehr, from Columbia Falls, who runs a guide service on the lake told me lake trout fishing has been excellent.

Other reports from anglers mentioned as many as 16 to 18 fish caught a day. Most of the lake trout are small and most of the anglers I talked to like trolling as their method of catching the Macs.

The Spring Mack Days will start on Mar. 26 and run for five consecutive three-day weekends. In all, there will be 15 days of fishing. For more information, call 406-883-1902 and ask for Tracy Burland.

Steelhead fishing on the Clearwater River in Idaho has been awesome some days and fair on others. The reports have indicated that when the fishing is good, you can hook a lot of steelhead.

Water conditions and the steelhead runs seem to be the determining factors. Fishing from shore has worked very well. Contact your local sporting good store for up to the minute information and what to use.

Another wildlife organization introduced themselves to the public during the Kalispell outdoor show is the North American Moose Foundation. The group just started late last year in seeking membership and has been received fairly well according to one of the foundation organizers, Marty Orwig.

Orwig is based out of Idaho and can be reached at 208-588-2939 for more information on the foundation.