Montana is experiencing unseasonably warmer temperatures for this time of the year. Butte of all places which normally is one of the colder spots in the state set a record high on Monday with 54 degrees. Yes I know that it is the last week of January but it sure feels like spring is right around the corner. Never mind that there is plenty of winter left for us to enjoy. Maybe next Monday when we celebrate Groundhog Day we all will know how much more winter that we have in store for us. Despite spring like temperatures ice anglers are still enjoying their sport even though caution is advised with ice is eroding on some nearby lakes.
There are in some open water opportunities so if you are anxious to get on the open water then Trevor Johnson from Helena reports that the Riverside boat ramp is free of ice on Hauser Reservoir below the Canyon Ferry Dam. The trout fishing is excellent right now down river, “we fished it last week and caught a lot of trout in the 16-20 inch range just by casting jigs into shore and retrieve them back”. I know what Johnson is talking about because I enjoyed a day on the water last January with Trevor and his dad Kit. It is a great way to spend a mid-day or afternoon on the water as you work the shoreline by casting your jig looking for some nice size trout. Keep your boat about 15 to 20 yards away from the shore while you drift along with your electric trolling motor. If you are an angler without a boat then you also can get some open water shore fishing in. Below Hauser Dam there are some great walking trails and the rainbow fishing has been very good with Kit tackle marabou glass minnow jigs. “Just cast the jigs out into some deep holes, let them sink and then retrieve them”, he suggested.
Bill Brown from Bob Wards reports that the Bitterroot River is fly-fishing well now especially during the nice warmer days, “Guys are using the san juan worms, egg patterns, and streamers and catching some real nice trout”. Also up toward Hamilton on the Bitterroot River Brown suggests to bobber up and try some whitefish fishing. But let’s face it this is January after all and ice fishing is still good. On Como Lake ice anglers have been doing okay on trout by the dam and they have also been catching a few salmon through the ice but mostly trout according to Brown using rocker jigs tipped with pink maggots.
Pablo and Ninepipes Reservoirs are now open for ice fishing and Rob from Ronan Sports and Western says that they are catching a lot of small perch on Pablo and some nice bass on Ninepipes.
I have also heard reports of salmon being caught on Lake Mary Ronan in 25- 30 feet of water off the state campground at night from 9-12 midnight. Once again please use caution while you head out ice fishing on any of the lakes, especially at night.
(Written by the Captain)