Hot weather is drying out Montanas mountains and valleys. It is increasing fire danger. It is also affecting the fishing.
Fishing rivers and streams all of a sudden becomes an early-morning and late-evening proposition rather than an all-day affair.
The warmer water temperatures make it stressful for fish to be caught and released, so most anglers stop about mid-morning and then start fishing again when the sun drops near the horizon.
The bigger fish don’t seem to around much at this time of the year in the rivers. Most of the fish caught are smaller.
The bigger fish just can’t seem to handle the warmer water so they get stressed out easier and they stay hunkered down in deep cool holes.
Sinking a streamer might be a good bet, but drag it slow because the trout down deep are often not in the mood to eat.
Another tip is to look at those rare days when it’s cloudy, cooler and dropping a bit of rain. Those days can be just the tonic the fish need to become more active.
Jim Vashro, regional fisheries manager for Montana Fish Wildlife and Parks at Kalispell, recently sent me an e-mail that covered an outing on Flathead lake.
Vashro wrote: “A friend and I hit the Woods Bay areas. We jigged 165 feet from 7-9 a.m. but were just getting little lakers. By 9 a.m., the wind pretty well died and we started cruising 135-165 feet of water, all the while dropping jigging spoons to the fish we marked on our fish locator. We landed five, three 14-pounders, a 15-pounder and an 18-pound lake trout.
“By 11:30 a.m., the wind had picked up so we decided to go the point and anchor in 38 feet of water and try our luck at whitefish. The wind blew most of the other boats off the water but we stayed anchored and ended up catching 30 whitefish in little over an hour. We also caught a couple 5-pound lakers that were probably feeding on the whitefish. We caught the whitefish on rattlesnakies, buckshots and crippled herrings.”
Vashro thinks the rare mid-day bite was aided by southwest wind and lots of perch fry in the vicinity of the whitefish.
Georgetown Lake float tube fly fishermen are doing well. The damsel fly hatch is what most fly fisherman are trying to duplicate with their fly offerings. Trollers are finding it hard to keep the weeds off so that fishing has slowed down.
Bob Culp reports that fishing over at Holter Reservoir was slow last week. “We never touch a fish in three days,” says Culp. “We threw everything at them, tried fishing early in the morning and tried fishing for walleyes and trout.”
However, Paul, at the Canyon Store, reported that the night fishing has really started to pick up on the lake.
Remember, you have to stop fishing at midnight on Holter.
The warmer weather has also slowed the walleye fishing on Lake Frances this past week, according to Scott from the One Stop in Valier.
If you think it has been warm lately in Montana with temperatures in the low 100s recorded as highs this past week in some parts of the state it has been hotter.
According to the Ultimate Montana Atlas and Encyclopedia the warmest it has ever gotten in Montana since they started to record such things is 117 degrees in two places-Glendive and Medicine Lake, with Medicine Lake setting its record on July 5 1937.
By the way, just in case you want to know, the lowest temperature recorded was 70 degrees below zero on January 20, 1954 on Rogers Pass.
That amounts to 187 degrees difference in temperature between the highest and the lowest. Welcome to Montanas wild weather!