“I can’t remember when it has been this bad”, was the comment I have heard more than once about last weekend”s storm from some of my friends who have lived in Missoula all of their life. I would have to agree that the mixture of snow and wind that Western Montana received would be hard to beat. I missed most of the weather as I went over to Helena for the Great Rockies Sport Show last weekend.
The Capitol City received a fair amount of snow and sub- zero temperatures, but they didn’t have to deal with the wind and the blowing and drifting snow. The three day show’s attendance was slow on Friday but picked up considerably on Saturday and Sunday, much to the surprise and delight of the exhibitors and the show’s producer Bill Rieir. “I think that most folks that attended were suffering from a classic case of cabin fever and they seemed to enjoy themselves once they got inside out of the cold”, he said. The next stop on the Great Rockies Sport Show 2014 Montana Tour will be the Adams Center in Missoula Saturday and Sunday March 22-23 and Reier is looking for another great turnout like he had last year, “We had great attendance in Missoula a year ago ,and I hope they will like some of the new attractions that will be there this year”.
So how will all the moisture that the state has received affect the water level on the reservoirs around the state? It certainly will help the water elevation of Fort Peck Reservoir this summer, according to John Daggett from the U.S. Army Corp of Engineers, “Under the basic and upper basic forecast that all of our boat ramps would be usable including Crooked Creek. Under the lower basic forecast, Crooked Creek would not be usable. We would have to have a drier weather pattern this spring than what we have right now for the lower basic forecast to happen”. Fort Peck Reservoir currently has a water elevation of 2222.40 feet. That equates to about 84% of full pool which is 2250 feet. The reservoirs downstream from Fort Peck on the Missouri River Basin are all holding at least 90% of their capacity with a couple of the reservoirs at 100% capacity. What that means is Fort Peck won’t, at this point anyway, have to discharge water downstream stream to support the other reservoirs water levels.
Ice fishing over in the Helena reservoirs has been good, especially in the Helena Regulating Reservoir for salmon, according FWP Troy Humphrey, “Kokanee salmon fishing is good while using pink ice jigs and maggots or corn. The kokanee are being caught near the bottom in 25 to 35 feet of water. A lot of small perch are being caught in shallower water. There is 14 to 16 inches of ice”. On Holter the boat ramps seem to be producing some trout,”Rainbows are being caught at Gates of the Mountains and Holter Lake Ramp on egg sacks or pink jigs with a maggot 4 to 8 feet deep. Log Gulch and Departure Point are producing a lot of small perch on jigs and maggots 30 to 50 feet deep”. There is 12 inches of ice around Departure Point and Log Gulch.