Dealing with the “W” is a necessary evil while fishing the Blackfeet Reservation. Managing the “W” is key to having a great experience each spring. Here are a few tips on how to have a better time while fishing on the Blackfeet Reservation.
Fishing the Blackfeet Reservation is high on most anglers lists.
This is most likely due to the HUGE rainbows that are caught year after year in these fertile lakes. It is not uncommon for catch rainbows that weigh into the double digits. That is a BIG fish.
All this wonderful fishing comes with an admission tag and in the spring that means fishing in the “W.”
“W”, also known as “horizontal turbulence”, can whip the Reservation waters to a foaming frenzy and has a huge influence on whether you will catch fish or get skunked.
Where does this wind come from? Here is a Blackfeet legend about the origins of the “W.” See What’s Up With The Wind in Glacier National Park?
Blackfeet Lakes are open all year for fishing. Ice covers these lakes from sometime in December until April. Imagine pulling a pig bow through a hole in the ice. That’s a rush!
You’d better be prepared to deal with the “W” during that time as well.
Here are some tips for managing the “W”.
- Layer up – use a base layer underneath some nice synthetic or wool thermal wear topped by either a Gore-Tex shell or wind blocker jacket. Be careful about adding too many layers, you still need to be able to cast and move.
- The water is COLD! Wearing a heavy neoprene boot foot waders that allow for extra socks is probably the best plan to stay warm. If you don’t have boot foot waders buy an extra-large pair of wading boots and add extra socks and base layer with long johns or fleece. I use Simms waders from Simms Fishing that are a bit too big and throw on 2 extra layers of wool socks plus wool long johns and will add fleece pants if it is really cold. I use size 12 wading boots so all these layers fit.
Be careful opening doors on your pick-up. That “W” travels with great force. It’s a bummer of a day when you spring your door hinges.
- Tie everything down and attach light items, such as caps, so they don’t get blown away. For caps I prefer a stocking cap with a built-in visor. When compared to a traditional ball cap this style seems less apt to get blown off.
- Wear polarized eye protection not only to help see the pods of fish you are casting to and to protect your eyes from casts into the “W” that get off course. I use Smith Optics that provide great protection and quality lenses.
- Get out of the “W” for a while. This helps restore your energy and will keep you focused for that next hit.
- Bring plenty of snacks and beverages. Remember alcohol may not be the best way to hydrate.
- Pack out your trash. Be cautious while snacking outside. The “W” likes to gobble up wrappers and trash. Don’t contribute to the clutter. It is also illegal to liter.
- Remember that Blackfeet Law requires that for folks that are not tribal members to fish during a prescribed time period each day. Fishing is restricted to the hours between 30 minutes before sunrise and 30 minutes after sunset. Link to Blackfeet Country webpage.
- If you have a boat you are required by law to have a life jacket AND wear it if the boat is moving.
- It is illegal to urinate or defecate below the high water mark on any lake or stream. In other words get away from the water to do your business.
- Make sure you know the current creel limits AND the size limits.
What Blackfeet Reservation Lake would you love to fish?
They all are great at times. If you can deal with the “W” they can be phenomenal.
© Montana Outdoor Guidebooks, 2014
Blake fishes with a Sage 8 weight rod, a St. Croix Reel, Simms Fishing waders and caps and sunglasses from Smith Optics. If he would have caught anything on that day he would have used The Measure Net to land that huge fish.