Captain’s Column: Ice Off, Rising Rivers, Turkey Season
By Kjel

Posted: April 12, 2012

This Saturday is the opening of Spring Male Turkey season in Montana. This year FWP has expanded the general hunting turkey areas in Western Montana. Hunters may purchase a turkey license in a general area at a FWP license provider. The application deadline for spring gobbler season permits has passed. For a regulations and a detailed outline of general turkey hunting areas go on line to The lingering effect of the harsh winter a year ago has kept the turkey numbers well below average across Region 7 in Southeastern Montana. This area has been popular for Montana turkey hunters in the past because hunters can harvest up to gobblers, but below normal temperatures and record precipitation during the 2011 spring coupled with flooding caused poor production across most of the region.

There are plenty of fishing opportunities for anglers to take advantage of this week. The local rivers will start to experience some spring-run off with warmer temperatures. With that being the case how they fish will be determined on a day to day basis. “The Bitterroot River is fishing great” said Scott Anderson from Montana Fishing Company. That comment came after a day on the river last week when Anderson’s clients caught many fish over 18 inches in length. The patterns that were working the best were the March Brown cripples and skwala.

When the large rivers start to rise like the Clark Fork and Blackfoot Rivers normally Rock Creek located east of Missoula is still fishable. “March Brown activity is great on Rock Creek from 2-5 in the afternoon” said John Perry of If you pick the right run of riffle you will have a lot of fun trying to catch rising fish. Perry suggests switching to different march brown patterns like the cripples, parachutes, split wings, and spinners.

This is also the time of the year that the trout start to spawn close to shore in the area lakes. The reservoirs over by Helena offer a lot of great fun fishing from shore for trout. Egg sacks, power bait and flies work very well. It is a great place to take the kids for a day. They will have a lot fun just looking at the trout right next to the shoreline. The boat ramps are very popular for trout shore anglers because this is the place that FWP plant the trout so they naturally return in the spring to spawn.

The docks and boat slips are in on the lower BLM campground and on Log Gulch campground on Holter Reservoir. Boat anglers have been doing better each week trolling for trout. Split Rock and the Oxbow Bend area on Holter Reservoir have been producing. The trout seem to be in the 10-15 feet range below the surface. Rapalas, needle-fish, syclops seem to be working the best.

Shed hunters are out looking for dropped antlers from elk and deer. The sport of shed hunting is very popular in Montana. It is a great way to work off some extras pounds you might have put on over the winter. To learn more about shed hunting go online to

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