Captain’s Column: Spring Brings Big Fish, Lake Trout and Steelhead
By Kjel

Posted: March 15, 2012

You probably don’t need to be reminded with all the reminders FWP has given out since the first of the year, but today is the last day that you have to submit your resident 2012 deer and elk big game application. Applications are required by FWP to be post marked by the U.S. Postal Service today March 15th.

The official first day of spring arrives next Tuesday. The weather we have experienced lately in Western Montana certainly makes it feel as if spring has already sprung. The open water fishing is starting to get in full swing. Some local anglers are testing the waters down in Idaho for steelhead on the Clearwater River. One of those is Kjel Olson of Missoula. He was accompanied by Jurell Linford also known to his friends as “The Duke”. It was a challenging three days that the two spent on the water. “ Each day we started fishing at 5:45am and fished till the last light of the day which was 6:15pm”, said Olson. The first day and half they only hooked 3 steelhead. At that point Olson and Linford started to analyze the water flow on the Clearwater to help them determine where the fish might be holding up. “We started to look at the water flow and asking ourselves if the flow was rising, dropping or remaining steady, “added Olson, “depending on the water flows steelhead can be running up the river or staging in holding water waiting for better flows”. By going through this exercise they were able to eliminate a lot of fishing water and target the water that they believed was holding the fish. “We decided that we should concentrate our efforts on the deeper runs that we hoped would be holding some fish”, said Olson, an avid steelhead angler. It paid off as they landed 13 fish including a 38 inch beautiful red sided steelhead. They had their best luck with drifting beads and yarn-eggs under an indicator. You may see a picture of Olson’s 38 inch steelhead on

March is one of Bob Orsua’s favorite months to fish Flathead Lake for big fish. “I like to fish the big flats off shore usually in 180-200 feet of water”, said Orsua the owner of Mo Fisch Charters based out of Lakeside. The big lake trout in the 30-40 inch class go out to these big flats to feed on the small whitefish and fresh water shrimp. “I troll a large flatfish from Wordens, mainly the T-50, 55 or T-60 size”, added Orsua, “I like to use the luminous white belly red top and metallic silver blue scale lures”. The key this time of the year is to troll these lures very slow. “You cannot troll these lures to slow I go one mile per hour or slower, the slower the better for the bigger fish,” reports Orsua. If you fish with downriggers make sure the lure is 150 feet behind the downrigger ball. Set the weight approximately 5 feet off the bottom. This should keep your flatfish lure in the fish zone.

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