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Fantastic Fall Fishing


Thu Sep 30 00:00:00 MDT 2004

Fishing the Madison River.

Fishing the Madison River

Leaves changing color and fat yellow busses of children headed back to school are undeniable signs that summer has slipped into fall. But that doesn’t mean one of summer’s best activities--fishing with family and friends--also has to end.

In fact, autumn is ideal for indulging in some quiet time fishing.  You may find you have the water nearly to yourself since the crowds have deserted the waters edge to watch televised football games.  The “crowds” of mosquitoes and other insects are largely gone as well.

The fishing may be better in the fall, too. With decreased fishing and boating pressure on the water, many fish begin to lose some of their wariness.  And, cooler water temperatures trigger many fish species to increase their feeding activity, while other species feed aggressively before their fall spawning period begins.  Whatever the reason, some of the season’s best catches are recorded each fall.

Many nonresident hunters who come in the fall also visit Montana’s State Parks before or after a hunt. What they may not realize is that they may already possess a fishing license as part of their nonresident combination license, and there is excellent fishing available in or near many State Parks.

Here are just a few examples.

* Flathead Lake, at West Shore State Park, near Kalispell, is very popular with anglers fishing for lake trout and whitefish.

* Tongue River Reservoir, in southeastern Montana, offers spectacular fishing for crappie and also good fishing for northern pike and bass.

* Hell Creek State Park, north of Jordan at Fort Peck Reservoir, offers fishing for walleyes, northern pike and smallmouth bass.

* Headwaters State Park, near Three Forks, is a great base for fishing numerous blue ribbon trout streams including the Madison, Gallatin, Jefferson and the Missouri Rivers.

* Salmon and Placid Lake State Parks, at the south end of the Swan Valley near the town of Seeley Lake, offers a base for fishing on the lakes and the nearby Blackfoot River.

There are some practical reasons to spend a fall day out fishing, too.  It’s a great time to give your tackle a quick check before winter. Make a note of any tackle that needs repair, or any voids in your tackle box that need to be filled before next spring.  If you fish from a boat, it’s a good reminder of any work that needs to be done to winterize your boat and trailer. 

Finally, one of the best reasons to be out fishing in the fall—it sure beats raking leaves all afternoon!