Survey says! The Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks' latest results on statewide angling pressure were just released. The survey is conducted every two years; the last survey was in 1999.
Some highlights of the survey indicate that over 3 million angler days were enjoyed in Montana. (An "angler day" is one angler fishing one body of water for any length of time on a given day.) Residents accounted for 75 percent of angling pressure and 87 percent of all anglers were going after trout in a stream, river or lake.
Canyon Ferry received the most use of any body of water in the state with 119,886 angler days. Fort Peck Reservoir received the largest amount of angling pressure for any warm-water fishery. It ranked second in the state for usage with 112,018 angler days. Anglers seeking walleye, bass and other warm-water fish produced 137,425 angler days on streams and 221,108 angler days on lakes.
July is the busiest month for anglers. The month makes up 15.7 percent of the year's activity. This compares with December as the slowest month at only 2.7 percent of fishing activity. The most heavily fished region of the state is Region 3 of southwestern Montana. Not surprisingly, the Upper Missouri River drainage experiences the most use, according to the 1999 survey.
It looks like the Clearwater River in Idaho is starting to offer up some of those salmon I have been telling you about. The river is still high but is clearing up and anglers are starting to do better. Some reports say anglers are catching their limits or close to it. Some observers believe the salmon fishing peak is still a week or two away. If you want to visit the Idaho Fish and Game site that reports on the salmon catches and runs, log on to www.montanaoutdoor.com web site or call Stu Kestner at (208) 476-5418.
Tim Johnston and Mark Spohnhauer of Kalispell took first in last weekends' first annual Noxon Buddy Tournament. Their team caught a total of 10 bass with a combined weight of 39.71 pounds.
If you want to enter the Pikemasters Tourney at Fort Peck Reservoir call Mike Spear, (406) 248-1226. It takes place next weekend, May 19-20, and the entry fee is $105 per team.
The Fresno Valley tourney is next Friday and Saturday, May 18-19. Call Vern Gagnon, (406) 265-5743. This year's tourney is limited to 75 teams because of the low water. It is the first tourney on the Montana Walleye Circuit.
Salmonflies: The salmonfly hatch on Rock Creek is still a week or so away. It might hit just in time for the general fishing season opener, scheduled this year for Saturday, May 19.
Other fishing: Warmer weather is warming the local water temperatures. Fishing for perch, northern pike and bass should be getting better as the surface water temperature gets into the 50- to 60-degree range.
Get out and enjoy it and take Mom along, so she can really have a Happy Mother's Day!
Mark Ward is known as Capt. Catchin' on his Friday radio show that airs from 8 to 9 a.m. on KGVO 1290AM. His statewide show, the Montana Outdoor Radio Show, airs Saturdays from 6 to 8 a.m. in Missoula on KGVO 1290AM; in Hamilton on KLYQ 1240AM; in Polson on KERR 750AM; and in Kalispell on KJJR 880AM. E-mail any comments or suggestions to email@example.com or visit his Web site at montanaoutdoor.com