COLUMN: Fishing picks up with change in weather

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Wow, did that weather last week kick the fishing into gear across the valley!

Near record temps for three to four days will do that, especially in the springtime. Most of our lakes lost their ice in late February, but waiting for almost six weeks before any significant inflow began really stagnated many lakes. Things are better now.

Perch fishing is picking up in many lakes, but if you are waiting for female perch to spawn, you may have about 11 months to go. Recently, I spent a couple days on Swan Lake and all we were catching were large post-spawn females. Their bellies already had retracted and new egg sacks were developing. I don’t think they waited for the optimal temperature — after over a month of open water, they were ready and dropped their eggs. Hopefully, they will survive, but we will have to wait and see. I have heard similar reports from other lakes as well.

On the trout scene, I think the Flathead River will be muddy for quite some time, but breaks will occur, so be ready when they do. I have heard both Foy’s and Rogers have been having some good evening bites, especially while it was warm.

Flathead Lake trolling has been real hit and miss, but the deep-water jiggers continue to slaughter those small fish. I have witnessed bull trout being caught from shore along West Shore State Park several times this past month, with a couple well into the 10-pound-and-up class, along with lake trout, so be sure you can identify your catch. ALL bull trout must be released.

Kokanee salmon will still be fairly shallow, so trolling along the mouths of bays during early morning and into the evenings should be red hot. I will be doing more research this week on that theory. Trolling for kokanee with ultra-light tackle can be very exciting and productive now, and if you attended my spring trout seminar at the Sportsman’s Expo, you should be ready to give it a go.

If you haven’t given the boat much attention since last fall, now is the time to get serious. Yes, it is not quite May, but those who already have prepared were able to take advantage of last week’s good weather. Indications are the weather is going to stay nice, so get those covers off and get started on your spring maintenance.

Charge the batteries, replace your fuel filters, look for any evidence of leaks around lower units and go over your trailer, too. Traveling down the highway, or while tied up to the dock, is no time to discover you have problems. Get everything in order now before you make that first trip to the boat ramp hoping for the best.

Spring is a great time to get the kids outside and fishing.

Lots of fourth-grade classes will be participating in stocking fish into the local children’s fishing ponds, and several outings geared towards kids are on the near horizon.

The annual Snappy Sport Senter Family Fishing Fair is Saturday, but many of the family fishing ponds are open and ready to go wet a line in. Smith Lake is always a good bet this time of year to take kids of all ages — there are lots of hungry pike in there.

Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks recently upped the limit on pike so you can take plenty home. Pike are delicious when properly boned and prepared, but getting the “Y-bones” out is critical. There are lots of good videos online, and there are plenty of pike to practice on.

The water is still extremely cold, so wear your personal flotation device, be aware of your surroundings, and I will see you on the water.

Howe runs Howes Fishing/A Able Charters. Contact him at or 257-5214 or by emailing

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