We are all looking for a new place to fish. Exploring is half the fun. Our first-time discoveries are often the best ones! My partner “Meat Stick” was up for an adventure so off we went. Winter is coming fast so a couple nice weather fishing days can’t get wasted.
As a member of a local fishing Facebook group, I asked for some advice about fishing “the Causeway” area near Helena. I had seen some good fishing reports, and those Canyon Ferry rainbows are beasts. The group responses were hilarious, sarcastic, and vague.
Anyway, I went exploring and found the Causeway. It divides Lake Helena from the outflow to the Missouri. It may be ¾ of a mile wide. One end has an opening and a great-looking fishing pier. It was easy to find, and we met a couple of older sports that were just finishing up.
Gerald and his friend from Minnesota regularly fish this area. “The big trout have orange meat and are delicious.” He had made custom rod holders out of rebar and metal tubes. The serious welds were a clue that heavy duty gear was needed for BIG PIGS!
They used worms floated with marshmallows. He gave me his leftovers to use. Power Bait was evident on the shoreline rocks. I also saw corn and found several spinners and flies. It seemed like there was not just one right way to catch trout here. I am always impressed by how friendly and generous Ice men and average fishermen are. Fly Guys rarely give you the time of day and are often rude. The basic bank and ice fishing guy is glad to talk and joke with new friends.
After the boys left, Meat Stick Dave and I set up. We were about 25 yards apart and cast out our 2 rods each. It wasn’t long before we needed each other’s big net skills. Floating your bait off the bottom was important as was casting out as far as you could. The wind made it hard to see our bites, so we used bobbers, hanging from the line, between the bottom two rod guides.
The trick is to hook the bobber, so it is offset and doesn’t pinch the line. It the bobber drops, the fish is biting and coming toward you. If it rises, the fish is swimming away. Sometimes the trout hit and ran, nearly dragging the rods into the deep. To deal with that, I placed a rubber band at the head of my rod handle. Now I opened the reels bail and pulled a 1-inch loop of line under the rubber band. This would hold the set up securely but allow the line to escape under pressure. When the fish would grab and run, the line would pull out form the rubber band and the reel was now free spooling. Using a slip sinker meant no resistance was felt by the fish, and you have time to grab the rod and prepare to set the hook.
Sharpening the hook is always important. You will catch 3 times more fish by doing this. Every fish we caught was hooked in the corner of their mouth, where hard cartilage is present. Setting the hook, using slip sinker of floating rigs requires a complete rod sweep, not just a jerk or two.
Within a few hours, we had filled our limits and were headed home. The rainbows were typical for the Canyon Ferry area. 19-23 inch big, fat, pigs! The state stocks small fingerlings that grow into these massive beasts. They feed on plankton in the lake and grow fast.
Why fish the Causeway? Be Cause!