Tag Archives: Wind

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.



What’s Up With The Wind In Glacier National Park?


The Home of The Windmaker: A Blackfeet Legend

The east side of Glacier National Park is well-known for its powerful blasts of wind.  Mere breezes gobble up wrappers, gales remove hats and cyclones carry small children away from their families in a weird Wizard of OZ way (well not really, but you’d better hold on to them!).

The HistoryThe wind frequently gusts over 60 mph near Marias Pass and Browning, MT.  Hurricane-like gusts have knocked railroad cars off the tracks near East Glacier Park, Montana.  Along the eastern front the wind has been recorded in excess of 100 miles per hour.  That’s a scary powerful wind.

One particular wind event reminded me of the power of the wind when I was lifted off the ground by a strong gust of wind while standing in the saddle between Pollock and Piegan Mountains.  I certainly was glad to not be standing on the summit of Pollock Mountain at that particular time.  Fortunately, we were not far from the leeward side of the ridge and crawled to reach safety out of the wind blown chaos.  Not all that brave, but I survived.

Here is a legend that explains its origin.

What are you looking at?

What are you looking at?

Many years ago, when a heavy wind swept across the plains, a chief of the Blackfeet faced the storm and made a vow to find its origin.

He crossed the plains and entered the mountains.  His way led through the dark canyons and dense forests, where the wind rushed and roared.  The terrible wind and the dark and gloomy surroundings filled him with dread, but he pressed forward until, at last, he saw in the distance, close to one of the highest peaks, the shining water of a lake.  During a lull in the storm, he crept close to the shore and watched.  Suddenly from the middle of the lake, arose the huge antlers of an enormous bull elk.  His eyes were red and flames darted from his nostrils.  When he waved his huge ears, a wind arose, so fierce and terrible, that the waters of the lake were whisked up into the air.  When the elk sank again beneath the waves, the wind went down.

The chief hurried back to his tribe to tell them of his wonderful discovery of the home of the Medicine Elk, the Wind Maker.

If you get caught in the wind.

– If you find yourself hiking or climbing and a strong wind begins look for an area that is sheltered and is out of the wind.  Give it a while, maybe be it will stop.

– Turn around and head home if it does not abate in within your time frame.

– If it is blowing hard when you plan to start the day consider driving over Logan Pass or Marias Pass and find something to do on the west side of the park.

– Please do not attempt to summit a mountain in a strong wind.  Glacier has strong winds AND then there are gusts that can knock you off the trail while hiking or even move your entire body while climbing on a route.

– Be safe and live to climb again!

What piece of Glacier National Park real estate do you want to learn more about?

Send me a message and I will get to work.

Do you have a spooky wind story to share?

Thanks for joining in for this small bit of fun history about Glacier National Park.  Not all of it is true but it is interesting.


For more information on the winds of Glacier National Park and the Blackfeet Reservation visit BHS science instructor studies the wind in East Glacier Park.

Source: McClintock, Walter, The Old North Trail or Life, Legends and Religion of the Blackfeet Indians, University of Nebraska Press, 1992 (reprint of 1910 edition)

© Montana Outdoor Guidebooks, 2014