Tag Archives: Trout

The “W”

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.

Blackfeet Reservation Lakes 4

Mission Lake and the eastern front of Glacier National Park.

All this wonderful fishing comes with an admission tag and in the spring that means fishing in the “W.”

Mission Lake in April

Mission Lake in April

“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.

Another shot of the effects of the "W" on Mission Lake

Another shot of the effects of the “W” on Mission Lake

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.
  • A little less "W" in Kipp Lake

    A little less “W” in Kipp Lake

    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.

Fish on!


© 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.



Trout That Look Up

Headers On The FlyOne of the biggest thrills for many people who visit Glacier National Park or other areas in northwestern Montana is backcountry camping.  There is something about putting in the effort to get to a campsite and settling in for a great night of sitting by the fire visiting and slapping mosquitos.

If you planned well your campsite will be near a mountain lake.  There is nothing better than spending evenings and mornings around the shores of a lake.  This is one of the essential experiences you must have on your visit to Montana.

For those who like camping the ways to spend time are varied.  Options include staying in the tent and reading a good book, playing cards, or spending time in great conversation with friends.

This is good eating!

Perhaps a more enjoyable pursuit would be to bring a fly rod or spinning pole and spend some time fishing for Westslope Cutthroat trout.

The Cutthroat trout is considered by many anglers as the easiest trout to catch.  They are the trout that always look up.  The fish here represent their species well and readily rise to any well-presented fly, as well as, take various tackle from spinning rods.

This is what the Montana Department of Fish, Wildlife and Parks says about this fish:

The Westslope cutthroat trout is one of two subspecies of native cutthroat found in the state.  Together, they have been  designated Montana’s state fish.  Cutthroat trout are so named for the red slashes near the lower jaws.

Since the westslope is recognized as a very important part of  our native fish fauna it has been designated a Montana Fish of Special Concern in Montana. 

The average size of these fish is 6 to 16 inches, depending on habitat, but they rarely  exceed 18 inches in length.

Fish in mountain lakes are not super finicky and will hit just about anything if the time is right.  The right time is in the evening and in the morning and you will be there!

For those of you who like to eat what they catch you might be doing the other fish in the lake a favor by eating a few of the fish you catch.  Competition for food in these mountain lakes can be intense.  Too many fish competing for a small amount of food produces fish with large heads and small bodies.

Most of the fish in National Forest lakes are planted by wildlife management departments for harvesting by anglers.  In Glacier National Park most of the lakes are self-sustaining populations.  Trout cooked over a stove is a high mountain delicacy that everyone who likes the taste of fish can appreciate.  Look below for some tips on cooking your catch.

How do you catch these beautiful trout?  See the On The Fly blog section for tips and recommendations.

How I Like Cook My Catch: (both options work)

In The Fire Method:

  1. If this is part of your plan, bring some aluminum foil.
  2. Bring a bit of salt and pepper.
  3. Clean the fish and cut off the head.  Make sure to properly dispose of the entrails.
  4. Place the fish in the foil.  Hopefully the foil is big enough for all of the fish you want to cook.
  5. Sprinkle with salt and pepper
  6. Wrap the foil around the fish and make sure you have a good double-folded seal on all sides.
  7. Place the fish (folded side up) on the side of the fire or on a log on the edge of the fire.  The idea is to heat up the fish not cook it until its black.
  8. Cook it for about 5-7 minutes.  How long depends on the size of the fish, the bigger the fish the more time it takes.
  9. When cooked properly the meat should flake off with a fork.  That means its done.
  10. The skin is delicious and highly nutritious.

In The Pan Method:

  1. See steps 2 & 3 above.
  2. Place the fish in a frying pan
  3. Sprinkle with salt and pepper
  4. Cook it for about 3 – 4 minutes and then turn the fish over and cook for another 3 – 4 minutes.  How long depends on the size of the fish, the bigger the fish the more time it takes.
  5. When cooked properly the meat should flake off with a fork.  That means its done.
  6. The skin is delicious and highly nutritious.

Where is the best place you have ever ate a mountain trout?

Most recently I had fresh trout at Upper Cold Lake on a cold-rainy day.  We used the aluminum foil method and was it every delicious!  Wish we would have caught more than one.

Tight lines,