By Robert Lucke
Fishing is looking mighty good in this part of Montana for the coming winter, according to Kent Gilge, fish biologist with the Montana Department of Fish, Wildlife, and Parks. Gilge, who is stationed in Havre, looks at the Beaver Creek Reservoir as where most of the action should be during the winter months.
"It is obvious to me that Beaver Creek Reservoir is going to be the center of attention," said Gilge. "It still has good water and good water levels and the variety of fishing opportunities, along with the size of fish, is going to draw people from all over the place."
Gilge said that new fishing regulations will help Beaver Creek Reservoir too.
"This is the first winter that live minnows will be allowed for bait out there which should open up a whole new fishery that was not there before, mainly walleye fishing through the ice," continued Gilge. "It should improve catches of large northern pike and perch too."
Bear Paw Lake should be excellent for ten to twelve inch trout, Gilge stated.
"They are gaining in size out at Bear Paw little by little," said Gilge.
Gilge's prognosis for Fresno is that lake should be fair for northern pike spearing and catching. However, he said, that low water levels causing a lack of water clarity could be a problem.
In fact low water levels have basically concentrated fish so it could really be a good fishing winter in many area fisheries, Gilge said.
Fresno tail water should be great.
"Fresno tail water should be really good all winter long due to the fact that there are large accumulations of fish that were flushed out of Fresno," said Gilge. "And the winter fly fishing for rainbow and brown trout up to five pounds should be really good."
Walleye, sauger, northern pike, ling, and lake whitefish averaging around three pounds can be caught in that tail water.
Lake Whitefish are found throughout the Milk River system, according to Gilge who thinks they are either native to the river system or came into the system via the St. Mary's diversion canal just east of Glacier National Park.
Bailey Reservoir should be good for perch and pike this winter and the Dry Fork Reservoir (Swartz Dam) should be good for large perch and northern pike, Gilge thinks.
"Some nice trout can be had through the ice at Grasshopper Reservoir, H. C. Kuhr Reservoir and Reser Reservoir," said Gilge.