The fishing gets good!
Now, fishing gets good!
For full time guides and outfitters, fishing “season” never really ends. We have fish to catch, boats to keep ready, gear to maintain, etc., etc.
For the non-professional, it is easy to let some gear go, maintenance on the boat slide and just flat not get out on the water enough to keep one's head in the game.
By this I mean, sometimes it feels like the season starts 6-8 times a year.
For someone who maybe gets out on Flathead in April during a nice weekend, then maybe hits it again in late May, then again in June and July, well that angler has fished four completely different conditions, and probably fished 2-3 different ways.
Conditions change a lot between those three months, weather changes, water temperature and clarity changes, where you need to fish and how you need to fish.
Throw in a couple different bodies of water and it can be hard to consistently catch fish every outing.
This is largely the difference between the casual angler and the pro, the professionals are on the water all the time, even when they don’t have paying clients, keeping up with the changes, testing new gear, etc.
But once June moves into July, and later into the summer, things begin to stabilize, run off slows, water heats up, clarity gets better, and the fish really begin to respond to this and put on the feedbag.
If you are fishing lakes, many species begin to feed along the first drop off from shore to deep water.
The weed edges begin to establish, wood and other underwater structure begins to attract bait fish and invertebrates, and bug hatches happen regularly.
It is not too hard to figure out where the fish lay. In deeper lakes, use your electronics to pinpoint temperature breaks and schools of baitfish.
In moving water, from the main rivers to connecting streams, the same pattern follows. Flows stabilize, setting up seams, pools, eddies and tailwater, all likely place to target fish.
Look for overhanging brush and branches, or where new woody debris has entered the water itself, these places are all magnets for fish, everything from trout to bass to panfish.
Another thing to focus on this time of year are what are the fish eating? If you are taking a fish or two home for supper, dress them (where legal to do so) and examine the stomachs.
This will help you know what they are feeding on, and armed with a decent sample of flies or soft plastics, such as those offered by local company Backwater Bait, you can “match the hatch” on the spot.
Be prepared with gear you know is ready, a boat that has fresh fuel and battery, and safety gear that is up to the task. Nothing more frustrating than gear breakdowns when fish are biting!
I’ll end with some pretty big news in the local retail sporting area this week with two heavy hitters dropping their MICs and heading into retirement.
First off, congratulations to the Sportsman and Ski Haus’s Joe Rudolph, who has been the face at the gun counter there for many years, along with his work in the fishing department.
Secondly, to my dear friend Chancy Jeschke. He was the face at the fishing department at Snappys for over 20 years and much of the fishing scene in the Flathead has been touched by his influence.
From bringing ice fishing into the 21st century with all the high-tech gear and tactics, to making bass and perch fishing arguably more popular than any other species.
His drive to bring quality tournaments and unrivaled seminars and open houses to us anglers is almost as impressive as his simple zeal to put people on the water.
We started the Perch Assault Tournament together in 2006 and I simply would not be where I am in the fishing industry without his mentorship, friendship and encouragement.
Maybe now we will get to spend some time together doing what brought us together in the first place.
Chancy, I’ll definitely 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