Elk hunting looks promising this year with numbers rising over the past two years. According to Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks 2013 elk hunting outlook, the elk numbers are generally above the long-term average. However, the distribution and trend of elk populations raises concerns for the future. Calf production and survival is low in several districts. A special permit is required to hunt bull elk in hunting districts 250 and 270 (the Upper Bitterroot) to allow bull numbers to rebound.
Hunters take care to avoid bears; hunting is the prime time to encounter bears so be aware. General hunting season for deer and elk opens on October 26th. Fall Mountain Lion season also opens Saturday, the 26th.
With the general deer and elk season set to begin Saturday, Montana Fish, Wildlife & Parks is reminding hunters that state law requires they stop at all game check stations while traveling to and from hunting areas. This includes hunters who have not harvested an animal. Check stations will be running at various locations in Region 3 during the hunting season.
Certain hunting districts in Northern Montana have closed because of epizootic hemorrhagic disease. This disease has taken a toll on the whitetail population and has led the Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks to close districts 400 – 401 – 403 – 404 and 406
Numbers from the FWP Region 6 game check station outside Havre for the weekends of Oct. 12-13 and Oct. 19-20 show reduced hunter numbers overall, but increased harvest of some upland birds and waterfowl.
Some rivers and streams are closed from 2pm-midnight due to drought conditions such as the Bitterroot River, Copper creek, Dearborn River, Smith River, Sun River, and the Madison River. The Big Hole River, North Fork of the Blackfoot River, and Landers fork, are closed to fishing completely. The Jefferson River and Clark Fork River have been reopened to fishing Some good flies to use right now are Para Caddis, Elk Hair Caddis, and hoppers in smaller sizes 14-20.
Holding Helena Reservoir: The salmon run has slowed way down but good news is the perch bite has been picking up close to shore. The ling are staring to get more active towards the evenings.
Missouri river: The ticket on the Missouri river is nymphs all sorts Hoppers an anything streamers Fire bead, hot bead, hot head, orange bead, or whatever you want to call a pattern that is tied with a bright orange metallic thing at the head. The bite has been steady from dusk till dawn!! So get out while the fishing is good!!!
Canyon Ferry: Rainbow trout are biting on just worms and marshmallows. Walleye bite is picking up in a big way. Floating green and yellow jigs seem to be the key. Some say a lavender blade is working fairly well.
Hauser Lake: Below the dam and along steep banks of Hauser Lake, walleye have picked up big as well. Same floating green and yellow jigs with a worm are working really well. Fishing from shore is also picking using the same jig heads. Walleye fishing at the Causeway is good.
(Report by Ryan Corwin-Bob Ward and Sons; Cover photo: salon.com)