A quick glance at any of the local streams will tell you that we can pretty much forget about fishing them for awhile until spring runoff subsides.
Not only is fishing the rivers and streams now - most of which are at near flood stage - an exercise in futility, it can be extremely hazardous.
So, let's look elsewhere for some angling opportunities in western Montana.
For me, that search led to Georgetown Lake on Memorial Day. Once the morning thunderstorm let up, it was a good place to be, though the weather appeared to have scared most anglers away.
My two companions and I had good action fly-fishing from our kick-boats down in the southwest corner of the lake. A variety of nymphs, scuds and leech patterns produced strikes from the rainbows when fished with a slow, stripping retrieve with sink-tip or intermediate sinking lines.
Remember, the south and east shorelines of Georgetown Lake, including all of Stuart Mill Bay, are closed to fishing until July 1 to protect spawning trout.
Another good place to be for some hot stillwater fishing in the past two weeks has been Lake Mary Ronan, according to Dick Zimmer, Pablo bait dealer and tackle manufacturer.
Anglers have been taking "lots of limits" of kokanee salmon at Lake Mary Ronan since opening day, on May 17, Zimmer said.
"It was dynamite on opening day," he said.
The best tactic has been still fishing, using an attractor above a Glo Hook baited with a nightcrawler, crawfish meat, corn or maggots. Perch also have been biting fairly well, Zimmer added.
The recent warm weather should heat up the action for bass at Kicking Horse, Pablo and Ninepipe reservoirs, Zimmer said.
Fishing for pike has been good in the backwaters and eddies of the lower Flathead River from Kerr Dam to Paradise, in spite of high water, according to Zimmer. Anglers are also catching some nice trout - browns and rainbows - in the lower river. Nightcrawlers have been the bait of choice for trout. Smelt is preferred for pike.
Lake trout fishing has been sporadic on Flathead Lake, Zimmer said. Although anglers have had consistent success jigging at Gravel Bay in the evenings, he said.
If you insist on fishing moving water, the Missouri River below Holter Dam is your best bet.
Dry-fly fishing on the Mo has been "very consistent with both baetis and caddis" fly patterns, according to Web site fishing report from The Kingfisher fly shop in Missoula.
"Calm afternoons have been producing blanket hatches and lots of fish up and eating," The Kingfisher reports. When the wind kicks up, tandem nymph rigs, are the way to go.
Top fly patterns recommended by The Kingfisher for the Missouri include size 14 pink and gray scuds, size 16 to 20 flashback pheasant-tails, lightning bugs, red San Juan worms, yellow and brown woolly buggers, size 16 to 20 parachute Adams or thorax blue-winged olives, size 14 royal stimulators and size 14 Griffith's gnats.
- Spring Mack Days, a 14-day fishing contest on Flathead Lake, begins Saturday and runs through Saturday, June 14.
This is the second fishing event coordinated by the Mack Days Committee in Polson and approved by the Confederated Salish and Kootenai Tribes and Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks, the two agencies that manage the Flathead Lake fishery.
Like the Fall Mack Days contest held last fall, Spring Mack Days is designed as a way to reduce the non-native mackinaw or lake trout population in Flathead, which will help foster native cutthroat and bull trout populations.
The contest works like a lottery, with each mackinaw 28 inches long or less good for one lottery ticket. Spring Mack Days offers minimum cash awards of $3,000.
Pablo's Dick Zimmer, an expert Flathead Lake angler, will conduct a seminar on where and how to catch lake trout on Saturday, June 7, at 6 p.m. at S-K Marina in Polson.
For more information, or to register, call 1-406-883-1902, or visit Ronan Sports and Western, S-K Marina in Polson, or visit the Web site www.skmarina.com. Entry fees are $15 for adults; $5 for youths age 17 and under.
Zimmer offers the following tips for Spring Mack Days contestants:
"I suggest fishing two poles per fisherman. You can fish one in each hand or set one on the boat's gunwales within easy reach. Normally, when using two poles, I fish one with a small bait and the other with a large bait to entice larger fish. For the contest, you'll want to fish both with a smaller bait. Flat jigs, such as one-ounce Trilobites or 1 1/2-ounce Lead-A-Gators will often be more effective than a lead-head jig for greater numbers of fish. If you use a size 4 LMR Special fly above the jig, you'll as much as double your catch. For color, try pink and glow, green chartreuse and glow, all glow, blue and glow, or white. If the water is muddy from runoff, use bright orange and flame red lures.
"I suggest Pautzke Trout Nectar-flavored cut bait on the flat jig and maggots on the fly. Change your bait often.
"Having a secure anchor set-up will generally be the most productive, but other methods of keeping your line vertical, such as holding the boat stationary with an electric motor, or back-trolling with your gas motor, can be effective.
"The best vertical jigging will be in fairly deep water, from 100 feet to 220 feet, with 180 to 200 being the most productive. The east shore of Flathead Lake has more small fish than the west shore. The area at the south end of Blue Bay and the north end of Gravel Bay is the best small fish hole on the lake and is often best in the late afternoon. Rocky Point would be the best location from early morning to about 1 p.m. On the way over to Gravel Bay, the north point of Bird Island or either of the two horns of Finley Points are possibilities.
"On the south end of the lake, the north point of Blue Bay, the south point of Yellow Bay, the creek mouths into Blue Bay, Dead Man's Point near Big Arm State Park, and the north shore of Wild Horse Island, especially near the lodge, are other places known to hold fish this time of year.
"On the north end of the lake, Woods Bay holds the most small fish. The reef jutting out from the north point is excellent. Back in the bay, in front of the Sitting Duck restaurant, out from Mauzley Creek, and the south point all hold numbers of fish. Other locations worth trying are the river mouth area, Painted Rocks, the south end of Cedar Island, east of Douglas Island, Housemill Point and Angel Point.
"If you prefer to troll, stay mostly shallow (30 to 80 feet), using spoons, small Rapalas, small Flatfish, or salmon mooching flies such as Katchie-Kootchies. If you troll deeper water, try to stay in depths where you see suspended fish on your locator. Much of the shallow water on the west side and north end of the lake will hold scattered, aggressively feeding fish.
"Shore and dock fishing will also be good during the tournament. Use lead spoons, such as the Country Mile or Lead-A-Gator for greater casting distance and staying close to the bottom during your retrieve. Where snagging is a problem, use less expensive brass spoons. A round-head jig is effective in shallow water. Wayfarer Park near Bigfork is one area to use these lead-heads."
Reporter Daryl Gadbow can be reached at 523-5264 or firstname.lastname@example.org