Fishing the Flathead

While enjoying the sun, anglers should take precaution

By Dillon Tabish

This recent string of warm, sunny days may have sullied the spirits of skiers searching for fresh snow, but other recreationists are enjoying the spring-like conditions.

The drift boats are out and lines are being cast at the many fishing sites around the valley thanks to favorable weather conditions.

While enjoying the sun, anglers should take precaution, though. Spring runoff is still a couple months away but the Flathead River and other regional streams are already swelling with water following this stretch of unseasonably warm weather. Colder temperatures that are in the forecast could calm the waters and make the casting a little more advantageous. The Flathead River at Columbia Falls was above 12,000 cubic feet per second earlier this week, nearly three times as high as normal for this time of year.

The recent weather caused the 10th Annual Ryan Wagner Memorial Ice Fishing Derby, scheduled for Feb. 21 at Murphy Lake near Fortine, to be canceled. This is due to unsafe ice conditions resulting from unseasonably warm temperatures and heavy rains, according to state wildlife officials. According to event organizer Duane Cash, he has not seen conditions like this in early February in over 40 years.

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