Change is good!
Well, with two of the biggest weekends for fishing in Northwest Montana behind us (traditional opener and Memorial Weekend back to back) it looks like the weather is finally going to give us that last little push we need to really fire things up!
Don’t get me wrong, fishing around Region 1 has been on fire lately, but some sun, warm temperatures and a final push of runoff is just what the doctor has ordered!
Let’s open up the box a little!
The rivers and streams over opening weekend were actually pretty darn fishable. I heard from some folks that spent several days on the Thompson River, and did well throwing Thomas Cyclones and Kamlooper spoons in orange/gold and red/silver patterns, as well as some worm under a bobber action. The Swan river put out some fish as well, with both fly anglers and bait fishermen doing well.
Rogers Lake is up to its usual tricks as the cutthroat trout and grayling bite is in overdrive. Hundred fish days have been reported, throwing either small spinners or dry flies. They are in real shallow too, which makes for quite the show as they can only go up once hooked! In fact, most of the smaller lakes are fishing very well, especially with sunny afternoon bug hatches beginning to be the norm. It is a great time to be a trout angler, whether in lakes or streams not subject to heavy runoff.
The kokanee bite is on at Little Bitterroot and Ashley, and Lake Mary Ronan to an extent, has been as good as it has been in a long time as well. While it is fun to catch the bigger kokanee that Bitterroot can produce, it is tough to keep a legal limit. This body has a two fish over 12-inch restriction, and it is really hard to find 18 fish UNDER 12 inches! If it is meat you want, Ashley’s 35 fish limit will keep your smoker smokin’!
When it comes to panfish, again, the action has been hot and heavy. Pictures of bags of perch fillets exceeding five pounds have been crossing my Facebook feed, and man does that make my face happy! Groups of friends and kin camping out over the holiday weekend, hoisting bass, perch, crappie and even a few northern pike are what family, fishing and fun is all about!
Healthy, organic fish meat is some of the most rewarding protein to be had, renewable in all circumstances and the smiles per hour pegs the meter. Why we don’t give these species more respect is beyond me.
Moving to the big water and larger species, the lake trout fishing on Flathead is definitely showing the effects of the cancellation of Mac Days due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
I have not seen as many smaller lake trout since I gave up the derby a dozen years ago, and these fish are eager to bite! It’s almost like they are looking for trouble!
Big fish continue to jump into our nets as well, and since we fish the north end exclusively, we respect the slot and return those sassy three-foot-long trout to be caught again.
Have you ever felt a 12-pound Mackinaw strike a rod you are holding? It’s about as much fun as you can have, and we have that bite dialed in.
With Montana dropping the quarantine requirement for out-of-state visitors effective June 1, we would still love to show our appreciation to our locals who need a break and something for the family to do.
Give us a call between now and my next column, ask for the “Facebook Special” and see what kind of a deal we have for you!
Stay safe and I’ll see you on the water!
Howe is the owner/outfitter at Howe’s Fishing, A Able and Mo Fisch Charters. Call 406-257-5214 or at www.howesfishing.com