Sunday, April 11, 2021

Time to get new fishing license

| March 4, 2021 12:00 AM

With March’s arrival, especially here in the Flathead, many anglers’ thoughts begin to turn to open water fishing.

While there is still plenty of ice fishing left, March always seems to signal big changes on the horizon for fisher folk, AND requires your new 2021 FISHING LICENSE before heading out!

There is no doubt that ice fishing opportunities will continue well into April, and even into May if you are willing to do a little traveling!

March often brings some of the best ice conditions as warming days will settle the snow and slush, while still cold nights refreeze the top crust into an easy to travel surface, at least in the mornings.

Warming shorelines open up some places where snowmelt can bring added oxygen into the lake and extra daylight can get fish feeding.

There is a LOT to like about March ice fishing!

But these changes can also create some danger areas, especially as we get into mid-month and later. Shoreline ice can become iffy, even while mid-lake ice remains solid and as safe as ever.

Having a backup plan for exiting the ice in the afternoon becomes critical, dry socks and boots in the truck become a necessity!

But we have a way to go before we get to that point!

Fishing has remained quite steady on lakes such as Echo, Smith, the Thompson Chain, Lower Stillwater and Lake Mary Ronan.

Expect the deeper lakes like McGregor, Whitefish, Ashley and Little Bitterroot to have a little less ice than the smaller lakes, as they were later to freeze, and always check conditions for yourself.

Local fishing reports can be had at Snappy’s, Cabelas, Sportsman and Ski Haus and Thad’s Tackle in Olney, to name just a few…rely on this info as these folks get solid intel almost daily.

As for getting ready for the open water, there have been boats out on Flathead as March is always a good time to target BIG lake trout on the big lake, as long as launch conditions are favorable.

The ever-controversial Mack Days tournament starts up March 19, so there will be heightened activity leading up to that. Trolling deep and right on the bottom will produce some giants, and jigging offshore structure will produce numbers.

Shallow water on the north end of the lake can always produce some big lake trout and northern pike beginning in March and the extended seasons in the lower river are another way to get the boats out and the long rods back working.

There are some very specific regulations for the lower river and every year someone gets it wrong, so READ THE REGS and if still confused, call FWP. Launching and loading boats can be very tricky in March, as the lake is

nearly eight feet below full pool as I write this, and there are many obstacles in the Delta and lower river areas.

We are still guiding anglers on the ice daily, and will be ramping up Flathead Lake boat trips very soon.

We have some exciting announcements to make as we enter 2021! Things to look forward to include trophy lake trout on Flathead Lake, pre-runoff pike in the sloughs and some awesome multi-species trips on the smaller lakes.

But, there is plenty of ice fishing still to be done, so give us a call and let’s get you and your family out on the ice!

I’ll see you on the water!

Mike Howe is the owner/outfitter at Howe’s Fishing, A Able and Mo Fisch Charters. Call 406-257-5214 or at