Fishing Tiber

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Fishful Faithful may remember a recent column where I admitted that the secret for catching walleyes in Lake Francis, near Valier, has remained hidden from me.

So it was with a great deal of hope and, a no small amount of anxiety, that a friend and I drove the extra 70 miles last week to test our walleye fooling skills in Lake Elwell, the now famous reservoir created by Tiber Dam.

In 2016, Lake Elwell became widely known in the entire Pacific Northwest when invasive species of mussels were discovered at the North Bootlegger fishing access.

This discovery sent shudders among downstream power companies and became the stimulus for dozens of watercraft inspection stations throughout Montana.

I had heard good reports of catching walleyes in “Tiber Reservoir”, but when we arrived at the marina, there were only three boat trailers in the parking lot.

We started fishing by trolling bottom-bouncers baited with nightcrawlers.

Within 15 minutes we had boated a pair of 13-inch walleyes.

Preferring to fish with baited leadhead jigs rather than trolling, we motored by boat to several spots which had treated us with nice fish on previous trips.

We continued to catch walleyes. Matter of fact, in 3 days we caught plenty of 13-inch fish, almost like catching the same fish again and again and again.

No doubt there’s a strong year class that, hopefully, will provide great fishing next in future years.

My most fun memory was when a “doggone-huge’’ carp grabbed my quart-ounce jig and headed, slowly and powerfully, towards deeper water.

All I could do was watch line pulled from the reel, then break!

I asked one of the watercraft inspectors for a Tiber AIS update and was told there was no eDNA evidence of mussels detected in 2017 and none, so far, this year.

Jerry Smalley’s Fishful Thinking column appears weekly in the Hungry Horse News.

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