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Walleye fishing with Wayne in spring's worst weather
Walleye fishing with Wayne in spring's worst weather

Spring fishing in Montana is always accompanied with certain challenges - like cold fronts.

Anglers periodically face cold fronts all year long, but many times the cold fronts of spring can be more dramatic.

One day, the temperature is in the high 70s; the next day a cold front has moved in and dropped the temperature into the low 50s.

Wayne Knudson from Florence, also known as Walleye Wayne, and I went fishing last week on Tuesday and Wednesday. It was our first fishing trip of the year, so naturally we were eager to get on the water.

The trip had come together quickly. We decided on Monday morning during a phone conversation to go walleye fishing. The weather had been so nice and, we thought, it would be a good time to go out and see if the walleyes had responded to the warm weather and begun to bite on one of the lakes east of the mountains.

We ended our phone conversation with a decision to head up by Havre and fish Fresno Reservoir.

Fresno has very low water level right now, but we figured that the fishing should be good. After all, we had done quite well on the Hi-line lake in the past couple of years.

That was Monday morning. but by the time we left town, I had made the decision that rather than Fresno, we should head over to Hauser Reservoir in Helena.

I changed my mind after talking to Leonard at Roberts Bait in Tackle in Great Falls. His company delivers bait to Missoula area stores and I called him to try and round up some leeches - prime bait for walleyes. All the sporting good stores in Missoula happened to be out of them.

Leonard convinced me that Fresno was not a good idea. It not only had low water but it was muddy, too! He said he had recently fished Hauser and had done well. He also said we could get some leeches at the Bob Wards store in Helena, which was right on our way to the lake.

I broke the change of plans to Knudson when I picked him up later that afternoon. He, too, agreed Hauser might be our best bet.

As we headed east on the interstate from Missoula, it became apparent that our weather was changing. Dark clouds were already rolling in overhead. but the time we got within range of a Helena radio station, our view of the changing weather was verified.

What we heard didn't sound good at all. Not only was there going to be a major cold front moving through the area, but it was going to be very windy as well - another piece of bad news.

The weather forecast proved to be accurate. It also meant that walleyes would be suffering from lockjaw by the time we arrived.

We fished for eight hours on Hauser. We caught just one trout - and that one liked Knudson's bait better than mine.

On the following day, we moved down the Missouri to Holter Reservoir. We fished Holter on Tuesday afternoon and then again on Wednesday until 1 p.m,

With only a sucker and a perch caught on Holter, we decided to give in to Mother Nature and her cold fronts. We called it quits and headed for home.

On our trip back, Knudson pointed out that despite the slow fishing, he had still caught more fish than me on our first fishing trip of the season.

After thinking for a moment, I realized that it was also another first. Yes, it was the first time I had been beaten by a SUCKER!

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 captain@montanaoutdoor.com or visit his Web site at montanaoutdoor.com

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