Tag Archives: Fishing

2nd Annual Fort Peck Fishing Trip

Last year we were invited by our friends, Kevin & Crystal, to go along with them to Fort Peck Lake here in Montana.  We all had such a great time, we decided to go for a 2nd Annual trip.  Fort Peck Lake is below Fort Peck dam and is 134 miles long at normal operating level, with 1,520 miles of shoreline.

We kept a journal this year and have lots of pictures to share.  If you get a chance to fish this lake, I would definitely recommend you do it.

*Note: Not all fish pictures are necessarily the exact fish that corresponds with the writing.  Once you take this many fish pictures, it’s hard to remember which was which.  But I did try to keep the actual type of fish accurate to the text.  Also, some days include a fish count.  And some days I forgot and there were too many fish and too many days for me to remember. Lots of fish, people, lots of fish…

 

Saturday Morning:

I’m opening up our posts about Fort Peck through the haze of having had a nap after being on a boat all morning. The naps are one of the big perks of these fishing camps… I fell asleep to the feel of rising up and down on the waves since my body seems to think I am still out on the water. It’s been a pretty good first day… We got an early start and made breakfast burritos with some pre-made eggs and sausage. We grabbed our mugs of tea or coffee and headed out.

We have come to Hell Creek both times as there is a nice campsite, launching area and we have gotten a pretty good feel for where we will have success fishing in some of the nearby coves.  The roads getting here are better than last year, but 30 miles of washboard gravel road tends to wreak a little havoc. As we clean layers of dust off gear or tighten bolts and screws, the phrase “welcome to Hell Creek” has been bantered between us all. As we were heading out on the water this morning we discussed which area we wanted to try and both Bob and Kevin were anxious to get back into the cove where they caught some really nice Small Mouth Bass last year. We motor our way back and see the familiar landmarks and settle in to troll our way up this finger of Fort Peck.

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The first fish in the boat is a medium Bass from Bob. Three more follow, increasing in size, from both guys and ending in one smaller one from Bob. Amongst them, Kevin caught a Crappie that wasn’t a keeper. Kevin keeps saying he knows there’s a big Pike in there as he watches big blips come across the fish finder. And he proves himself right as his line starts zinging along, the tip of the rod curving down to the water. He’s super excited and we all jump into action, grabbing nets and moving other fishing poles. Kevin is reeling hard and this fish is just taking off with his line, while Crystal is trying to maneuver the boat to allow Kevin to get this guy on the boat. Kevin works the fish close to the surface and we catch sight of that big, angular Pike head and I can’t help but exclaim “He’s gorgeous!” which causes the fish to panic and dive down. Kevin gets him to the surface twice more before we get him in the net. Thankfully Mr. Pike had taken a roll or two and was wrapped securely in Kevin’s 8# line. Bob nets him up and Kevin goes into celebration mode. It’s a super decent fish. He weighs in at 11 lb 5 oz and is 38” long. There’s a lot of teasing about bigger fish that everyone else has caught. But really, it’s a nice catch.

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As the bite dies down, we head into shore to replenish supplies and clean fish so we will be ready to head out for the evening.

Saturday Evening:

We head out for an evening of fishing as the sun beats down. I don’t know what the temperature is, but the forecast for this week is a high of 105° F and it’s HOT.  Last year we didn’t bring swimming clothes, but this year we are ready. After fishing for a short time and not seeing a lot of response from the fish, Kevin decides to change into his swim trunks. We all politely avert our eyes, but Kevin has a wardrobe malfunction and can’t get his balance, we all start laughing as we hear him struggle which causes him to crack up. A boat that had been further away is drawing closer and jokes about them being traumatized by his bare, white bum start flying around. Crystal is standing at the back of the boat watching to see if Kevin needs help and I glance up at her and realize that there’s a very clear, miniature view of the front of the boat in the reflection of her sunglasses. “I can’t look at you, or towards the front!” I say. By this time we are incapacitated with laughter and Kevin sounds like he is starting to panic. Crystal goes to the front and I guess they get Kevin sorted out because we hear a splash and he’s in the water. After he gets cooled off, we try a couple of other spots to fish and end up with just a small Bass that we don’t keep.

 

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This little guy had big ideas…

Saturday Fish Count:

Bob: 2 Small Mouth Bass

Kevin: 2 Small Mouth Bass

1 Pike

1 Crappie

Crystal: 1 Small Mouth Bass

Katrina: 0

Sunday Morning:

On Sunday, I took a little writer’s retreat and relaxed at camp. Everyone else went out but only caught a few super small fish and didn’t keep any.

Sunday Evening:

Sunday night was gorgeous, we went out around 7pm and the water was cobalt blue with reflections of a lavender sunset to the west.

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We pulled into a cove and saw fish jumping, which always seems like a good sign. The Red-winged blackbirds were calling to one another and huge dragonflies were hovering over the water. Kevin caught a barely keepable Walleye early on. We were trolling around and suddenly Crystal says “Is that a snake?!” We all rush to look and instead of a snake, see a monster of a Pike with another fish in it’s mouth, breaking the surface of the water as he attempted to get his meal down his gullet. We watched him as he made an appearance on both sides of the boat and saw one more flip of his long body further away and he was gone. We didn’t figure we would catch that guy, since he had just eaten, but we were now hoping for a big Pike in this cove. Crystal caught a little Perch and Kevin caught a dinky Walleye.

DSC_4768We were trolling around a flooded area and Bob had on an orange spinner as he casted in between snags. Suddenly he had a fish on and after working a few minutes got a nice Pike on the boat. It was a nice way to end a slower day.

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Monday Morning:

Monday rolled around nice and hot again, with 99° F in the shade at 2pm. We got a later start and headed out at 7:30am. We had some nice cloud cover to start but it blew off pretty quick, although there was just enough of a breeze to keep from sweltering on the boat. Crystal brought along a floating tube and cooled off on that and we took a swimming break as well.

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Crystal caught a Walleye on a Perch colored Colorado blade. Kevin caught a Walleye and a Perch that he threw back.

Bob caught a Pike that was about 5 lbs and 32” on a yellow and orange Colorado blade on a bottom bouncer with a worm.

It started to get hotter and the fishing died down so we headed in to take a break for mid-day.

Fish Count:

Bob: 1 Pike

Kevin: 1 Walleye, 1 Perch

Crystal: 1 Walleye

Katrina: 0
Monday Evening

This was the hottest day of the trip, at 102 ° F. So we took a break from fishing in the evening and did some housekeeping around the camp and some napping. This was a serious napping day, especially since we had splurged on a campsite with electricity the day before and we had a/c in the camper.

Tuesday Morning

4th of July – ‘Merica… Bob & Katrina’s Anniversary

We woke up extra early and got out on the lake at 6am in hopes of getting some time out fishing before it got too warm since it was so hot the day before. We pulled up to the first spot, hoping to land on the fish and get going. After a few minutes, Bob was able to pull up a small mouth bass. This fish was his first of the day and seemed like a good start. After a few minutes, there was not much biting and we moved to another spot. Kevin caught a perch that he threw back and then a fairly decent Crappie using a Gulp Alive minnow on a jigging head. Kevin was frustrated because he was getting bites but not getting anything hooked, so he decided to keep the Crappie. But shortly after he caught a real nice Walleye. I finally hooked into a little Bass that I threw back in the drink.

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I probably would have caught more fish, but I got a little caught up in the relaxing part of fishing and didn’t spend quite as much time with my line in the water as I could have. Anyway, since I finally caught a fish, I decided I needed a break and sat down on the back edge of the boat to drink my tea. Bob was messing around with getting a lure from Kevin in the front and as he came back he dropped it and it clattered on the bottom of the boat. He asked if I could help him out and I turned around to see him kneeling down on one knee to get it. Right off, I knew he was up to something. He handed a big, shiny, lure up to me and I suspiciously took it. Looking at it more closely, I realized it had fancy engraving across the front of it. I looked at it more closely and read “Marry me, but this time in Ireland.”

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And I figured that would be fine, so I said “Sure.” Actually I told him he was crazy and then I said sure. Which is a bit of a joke because I don’t do great with things that involve emotions and when he proposed 14 years ago I didn’t say “Yes!” and cry and get all scream-y like they do in the romantic movies. I said “Sure.” I always explain now that it’s really a good thing because it meant I was sure. So that was fun.

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After awhile things calmed down and we went back to fishing and Kevin caught a Pike. We could see a lot of big Pike in the shallows, feeding on minnows and other fish. We continued fishing without catching anything worth mentioning and decided to head in until it cooled off a bit.

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Tuesday Evening

We got back out on the water at a little after 5pm. It was a beautiful last evening of our trip. There was a cool breeze and some decent cloud cover which made for a pastel sunset. We had a Bald Eagle that was hanging out in the cove we were in and we got a chance to observe him which was pretty neat, especially as it was the 4th of July. He flew to a couple different vantage points, at one time giving some geese a heart attack. We also saw mule deer coming down to drink at the water’s edge. Kevin caught another Pike and two walleye and I caught my second fish of the trip, a Bass. Back at shore, Kevin showed us some good tips on how to cut up fish and we will get some video up soon (hopefully).

 

Wednesday Morning

Bob and Kevin went out for a short time while Crystal slept in (she’s 9 months pregnant so it was totally warranted). I got up at 5:30am and went looking for toads to draw in my Nature Journal. We had caught a few last year and I was hoping to find one this year too. I didn’t find one, so I had to settle with a cool feather and my new bluebird friend. Crystal woke up after awhile and we relaxed at camp and drank some coffee. The guys showed back up shortly with two walleye, a drum and a Bass from Kevin. Bob had caught a Bass and a Gold Eye that he threw back. Then we broke up camp and said good-bye to Fort Peck for another year.

Alright, thank you to those that made it all the way to the end of this mega-post.  For those of you still interested, I am going to add a few more random pictures and fill you in on some lure information.

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*some affiliate links included

Fishing Gear We Used:

Bottom Bouncing with Worm Harness: Kevin and Crystal had made up a bunch of the worm harnesses so I don’t have a link for you.   We are going to learn how to make them and do them as a handicraft (think life skills) in our homeschool, so I will get a tutorial up for you.DSC_4715

“The Ambassador” (Not the actual name, but a name it had previously earned for helping Kevin bridge the gap between this world and the underwater one) Kevin caught a little of everything with this guy.  It’s actually a Perch colored jointed shad from Rapala.

JDR Lures: We used a variety of these, some of our favorites were the Bleeding Eye Brown Trout, Danger Close casting spoon and the Perch casting spoon

Berkley Gulp Alive Minnows: These were pretty hot for us.  We used them on a jigging head and had pretty good success with these.  Maybe the most success out of everything we tried.  Bob has a little container of liquid that comes with some of them and it adds a scent to the bait, so maybe that helped too.

 

 

Wild Game Recipes & Meal Prep Container Review

Today I have this week’s recipes and meal ideas (scroll down for those), plus I wanted to share with you a nifty food storage container that we are trying out.  The containers are called Fitpacker Meal Prep Containers.  They are made specifically to help you eat healthier by preparing healthy meals to eat at a later time.

Hamburger Salad, Meal Prep

The Fitpacker Original are the perfect size for individual meals (28oz.)  and we have been using them for lunches and dinner on the go.  There is also the option to get the Fitpacker Duo which has two compartments or the larger Fitpacker XL (38oz.) containers to accommodate a variety of meal types.

Pros:

We have been using these containers for about a month and a half and they really help simplify things.  They stack up really nicely, so I can store them neatly in a cooler bag when we will be eating supper in town and I love how sleek and simple they look when they are all lined up and ready to go.   I don’t just use these containers when we are away from home either, they are also great for setting up snacks for the kids (sliced fruit and veggies) or pre-making my own lunch so that I don’t end up making poor choices because I am in a hurry and just grab whatever is quick. Another big plus for me it that they are made in the USA.  Fitpacker containers are also BPA free, easy to clean and freezer, dishwasher and microwave safe.

Specially contracted with a USA manufacturer to provide the most dense and highest quality plastic container they have ever made.

I was a little worried that the lid would leak when we packed up foods with liquids, but the lip on the tray and a well-fitting lid keep liquids from spilling out.

They are a great tool to have around for meal prep and it makes it easier to make healthy choices when you have your meals all ready to go. Red Beans & Rice, Meal Prep

Cons:

The lids fit so well, that sometimes they are difficult to remove.

Pricing:

Fitpacker containers are on sale right now so the price on the Original size ranges from $13.99 for 7 containers to $21.99 for 16 containers.

*Fitpacker graciously sent us the Fitpacker Original containers in order that we could provide this review.

This Week’s Recipes:

Okay,  this post is getting a little long, so I am going to keep the recipe information basic this week.  But if you need some ideas on how to use the fish and game you have in your freezer, here you go!

Hamburger Salad– This is SO good, we use a little bit of cheese and this salad tastes like a Big Mac.   We used Elk burger for this one.

Honey Soy Salmon  You can’t go wrong with a Pioneer Woman recipe… This was easy and delicious.  We had a problem with our rice (let’s just say, we had some uninvited guests) so I nixed the rice in this recipe and went with some Dreamfields Spaghetti noodles.  I spooned some of the sauce from the fish over the noodles and the kids went especially crazy for that.

Loaded Nachos Another Pioneer Woman recipe, you can use Blue Corn Chips if you are trying to steer clear of too many carbs.  This was a fun meal for the day we had one of the kid’s friends over.  We used Elk burger for this one as well.

Taco Skillet Oh, man… If you need a quick dinner, this is the one.  Brown some burger, open a couple of cans and you are set.  We ate this over a bed of lettuce with a dollop of sour cream.

Elk Loin steak with mashed potatoes and salad.  I salted the thawed steak, fried it in the pan and then sliced it with the potatoes and salad on the side.   No recipe needed.   The Pioneer Woman does have  a great tutorial for how to cook a steak if you need something like that.  I don’t use the seasonings she recommends, just salt and pepper and I do cook our steak just a smidge more than she does, but she has some great pictures that will help you get a good idea of how to cook a great steak.

That’s it for this week!  Let me know if you try some of these out, or if you have questions about the Fitpacker containers.  And, as always, I would love to hear your meal suggestions.

God bless!

-Katrina

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Night Fishing

We had a lot of fun this summer on a night fishing trip.  Some of the guys we went with have done this for years.  This night was a special one though because we decided to get a good group of guys together, rent a large pontoon boat and spend a good couple of hours getting to know more about each other in relative darkness.

I was one of the last ones headed out as I was waiting for my father-in-law to arrive at my house so we could go out as a carpool.  A good portion of the guys had either taken down the camper and/or have headed out to go pick up the pontoon boat, which would fit all of us on it, plus our food and gear, for the evening.

We arrived at the lake about 6:45 pm, just as the other guys were getting the boat into the water.  After helping with the boat docking, we loaded all 8 of us and our gear for the evening and set off.

We were able to get to “our spot,” a specific spot on the lake that we have had success with in prior attempts. During the summer, the trout congregate at a certain part of the lake, especially at night, and the results are just so much fun! After anchoring the boat, we tied on glow hooks and weights to our lines, and then we got Josh set up.  He had just moved to Montana from California earlier that year and this was to be his first fishing trip and his first fish (if all was to go well).

We went through how to set up the reel and rod and how to tell how far down you were in the water.  I was hoping that this would work out for him, as this is what it is all about!  Spending and sharing the outdoors with everyone we can.

It was a bit a of a slow start as we were there before it started to get dark, which is what we found is needed to be able to get our spot.  We all decided on different depths to see where the fish were going to be at, which as it turned out, was a very good thing.

After a bit, Henry (my father-in-law) decided to fish the bottom which is quite a ways deeper from where we normally fish.  To our surprise he ended up hooking up with our first fish of the night!  A Ling or Burbot – if you never have seen these fish you need to check them out – very tasty although they don’t look like it.

We had a fish here and there for awhile especially at the front of the boat which had lights.  Then all of a sudden, the bite was on!  It was about 10 pm which, which  we have found is when they first start biting well.

We found the school and they were at 20-30 feet!  For the next two hours, it was a non-stop frenzy of baiting, dropping the line down, reeling and netting.  We found out on this night that the fish were attracted to the lights (old car lights in styrofoam hooked to a car battery) so we moved the lights from the front to the back of the boat and back up front every half hour or so.  We not only had trout during this trip, but a few walleye had graced us with their presence during this spell as well.

The good thing about the night fishing is that it tends to slow down about 11pm (to usually finish out your first day’s limit) and then pick up again at 1am.  One o’clock in the morning is the next day and another limit in store for us!

Just as we have done in the past, the fishing picked up again at 1am, and by 3am we had all pretty much limited out!  The fishing was great and we were able to share the blast that we know as night fishing with one of our friends.

We placed the large amount of fish in a cooler on ice, planning to clean them when we get home and went to bed.  Morning came early and we cooked breakfast for the group of guys (except for the eggs I forgot to bring), loaded up and headed back out on to the lake.

One of the guys, Jeremy cleaned up his catch at this point as he wasn’t able to go back out that morning.

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In a prior fishing trip, we found that at another point on the lake there are perch to be caught so we decided to try there.  We had been there a couple of weeks before, but this time we were only able to find a few here in there.  This is when Henry said, ” Let’s try over there” and he pointed out over the water.

I relayed his suggestion “Hey guys, let’s move over there where Henry said to try.” and after a few minutes, we were anchored again, but this time over a very large school of perch and some walleye!  In about an hour, between all of us we had filled two five gallon buckets full of those dry tasty fish!

We decided that it was about time to head back, especially if we had to clean all of those fish.  We packed it up and in and returned home to Brad’s house to clean.

All in all we had caught and kept 120 perch, 10 walleye, and 63 trout.  Not a bad couple of days fishing!

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impressive

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Things done correctly:
1. We had experience in where to start fishing. Right spot at the right time
2.  We had the right equipment:  My set-up,  a medium rod with spinning real combo, glow hooks, lead weights (split shot) and night crawlers for the trout and a medium light rod and spinning combo with a jig head and night crawlers for the perch.

Things that we could of been better:
1.  We are working on a new set of lights that will give more light without the large battery needed.
2.  We need another set of lights so the whole boat can benefit from the lights.
3. I should have taken a bit more time before heading out to teach how everything worked for our new fishing partner!

Overall this was a great trip with good friends.  If you want to get to know someone, take them fishing overnight!!!  This is something that will most likely be an annual trip for us (if not a couple times a year trip).

Ocean Fishing in Oregon

During August of this year my family and I were visiting the great states of Oregon and Washington to visit my wife’s brother, Jonas and his wife Sarah and their family, who live in Battleground Washington, just north of Portland.  We enjoyed the chance to visit and explore the area.  We picked blueberries and caught them at the end of their growing season, but still picked a quick 60 lbs in two hours.  We visited the sights and the big Farmer’s market, but one of the things I was most excited about is the fishing!

I have never been out on the ocean to fish.  I have done a few tours and such on the ocean, but never had the means and time to be able to fish!

So Jonas and I went on two different fishing trips out near Astoria (Goonies never say die!”) .
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Going After Bottom Fish

The first day we chartered a boat going out to fish Rock Bass and Ling Cod.  We started out early from the house, 3 am to be exact.  As we headed out and got gas, Jonas looked and we realized we were going to be really close to arriving at the docks at the last minute we had to check in.

We drove as fast as we legally could,  trying to get there in time.  Luckily for us, we didn’t have a lot of traffic and the construction that happened to be in our way didn’t slow us down.  We arrived just as we needed to be there and were able to get on the boat.

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The boat was a rather large one, and we were going to be passing through the most dangerous waters in America.  The crazy part of this trip was the travel to the spot we were going to be fishing.

 

The travel in the boat took about an hour to get in to the spot where the rock bass were staying.  We arrived and the captain and deckhand were setting up the rods.  The fishing rods were about 8 feet long and were very, very stout.  They had a counter on them so that you knew how far out you were.  The setup consisted of a large lead weight with a couple of rigged hooks with plastic tails.  They are tipped with a small fish and sent down to the bottom.

You then drop the lines when the captain says and then go to the bottom and bounce the rod up and down until they hit the line, then you bring them back up.  Then after you float out of position, you reel up, the captain moves you, and then you fish again.

The group as a whole has a limit of 7 fish per person.

After a couple of minutes I found that I was starting to get the idea of how to fish.  I was catching a fish here and there, when all of the sudden, the line went really heavy.  I started reeling the line up and to my surprise, I had doubled up with two really nice rock bass!

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The rest of the trip was fast and furious as I landed 10 fish total, with two being fish that we had to throw back as they were not legal to keep.

The biggest struggle I had was keeping my footing, but I was fishing well and had caught quite a few.

As fast as the fishing had started, we were told to reel up as the limit had been caught.  There was one person who had caught a ling cod, but we had caught quite a few fish in only about 45 minutes.

The ride back was rough and showed me why it is a dangerous port way.

Salmon Fishing

The next day of fishing was much easier, as far as the trip out went.  But, buoy 10 had just opened the day before and there was only one boat that had caught fish so far.  Which was news that we didn’t want to hear.  However, we decided it would still be fun to go out as I hadn’t experienced that before.

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We arrived after grabbing some lunch to take on the boat and got ready to go.  We loaded up on to the boat and took our seats.  We were being guided by Forest Shields and his deckhand Scott Shields from Gone Catchin’ Guide Service. We had only four people on the boat for this trip, which I was really excited about as we would have more fun with less people on the boat.

We set out to the area where the fish had been caught the prior day.  The crazy thing is that phones work so that the guides can talk to each other to figure out where the fish are.  We had fished for awhile when one of the lines started jerking.

One of the other client’s rod had a salmon on the line.  It was reeled in and was a fish that could be kept so it went in to the bag.  We stayed in the area for awhile, but no other fish were caught.

We decided to move to the other side of the bay with the tide moving a different direction.  We set down the lines, which had different weights to get the lines down to the bottom and not tangle.  The heavier weights were in the front, whereas the lighter weights were in the back allowing them to fall behind the boat.

So after a pass we moved back up to the top of the bay when all of the sudden, Scott called out, “Montana, fish on!”

I ran to the back of the boat and grabbed the rod, all the while everyone else was reeling up.  I felt the fish pull on the other end and I started into my routine, letting the fish run when it pulled and then pumping and reeling when he was stopped and moving towards me.

This was the fight I had for a good 15 minutes, him pulling and seeming to win for awhile, then me getting him close to the boat.  Finally after what seemed like a long time, we were rewarded with the sight of the fish.  A great Chinook Salmon!  Forest moved expertly in place and had me pull one last time to get him into the net!  I had accomplished my goal.  The biggest fish of my life.  We estimated him at about 20 pounds and after he was into the net and brought in, we determined he was legal and kept him.

Scott handed him to me and we took this picture, a great trophy!  The fish was then put into the cooler bag ready for the rest of the day.

bob-salmon

We then proceeded to the top of the bay again, when another fish jumped on my line.  Jonas took the turn at the rod and line.  After a few minutes, another great fish was in the boat!

The crazy part of the day was by this point, we were basically the only boat on the bay that was catching fish!  So with that, boats all over were coming in close to see what we were using and what we were doing, which was nothing different aside from the guides helping us out.

We kept fishing for awhile longer and another client ended up hooking into another fish which was legal and pulled into the cooler bag.  We had all caught a fish.

The rest of the day was slow with no more fish to be had and so we moved back to the dock where Forest cleaned the fish and got them into a bag for us to take home and get in the freezer.

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This was another great day and time fishing and a new experience that I would really like to share with my father in law Henry and my dad and Jonas again at some point in the future!

A special thanks to Jonas for taking me on this fantastic adventure.

Thank you also to Gone Catchin’ Guiding Service.  If you are going to be in the area, you can check them out at the website below.
http://columbiaguidedfishing.com

Things done right:
Finding great guides (Jonas did some great prep work.)
Going fishing during the week keeps out the weekend locals for the most part
Spending time doing new things.

Things could have done better:
Could have stood in a different place on the first boat so that I wouldn’t have slipped all over the place.

 

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Summer Fishing Series: Part II-4th of July Fishing at Fort Peck

Ft. Peck 4th of July weekend-

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For this part of the series Katrina and I joined a couple of friends, Kevin and Crystal for a fishing trip to Ft. Peck at the southern part of the late had Hell Creek marina.  This would be our first time fishing there on that arm of the lake.

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During the weeks leading up to the trip both Katrina and I were figuring out what we would need to bring for both food, water, and fishing gear. We brought what we thought would be a good batch of gear.  A medium-light action spinning combo, a medium action spinning combo, and my typical tackle box:  basically the spoons from JDR Specialty Tackle that I had purchased on the last trip.

For the food we borrowed a Yeti 125 from my dad so that we would have just one spot to keep the food cool and get the fish cooled down until we were able to get home.  We wrapped dry ice in newspaper and put it in the bottom with regular ice over the top.  It worked so well, we were able to freeze the fish we caught and it kept our ice from melting the whole time.

About a week prior to the trip, we met up with Crystal and Kevin, who we would be getting to know very well during the next week (if want to get to know someone, the best way I have always found is to go “live” with them for a period of time by camping, hunting and generally being outdoors).  We talked through some of the specifics of what each couple would be bringing so that we could prevent doubling up on things.  This really set us up for a good time!

On the night before we were going to leave for the trip, we got as much of the gear ready as we could, so that we would be ready for the next day of travel.  After I wrapped up my work the next day, we loaded up the cooler, our gear, and the kids who were going to stay with grandparents who happen to be on the way.

We got the kids settled with their grandpa and grandma and met up with Kevin and Crystal in Lewistown.  This is where the fun began.  We hooked up the boat to my pickup as it was better suited to pull it and could handle all of our combined gear.  We got gas and then were on our way.

We arrived to the camping spot about 12:30 am, which was about what we figured, based on when we had left Lewistown.  We then started stealth-fully looking for a camping spot which had shade during the time when we would possibly in camp.  We found a spot and pulled out the tent to get it set up.

We had just recently purchased a tent from our local Sam’s Club and we had set it up in the yard the week before, that was helpful since we were setting up the tent in darkness.  We got it up just as the wind started blowing.  We found out one of the legs was a bit weak and we supported it with a bit of duct tape.

After finishing up the tent we went to getting the truck and camper unloaded. At this point we were all a bit tired and crashed.

Day 1 of Fishing:
We woke up early and made breakfast and tea for the girls and talked about what we would try to do to get the trip started off well.  We ate and got on the water relatively early and we were fishing!

The day started off kind of slowly.  We decided since I had had some luck bottom bouncing with my dad a few weeks earlier, that we would try that.  We were able to get a couple fish here and there, but nothing truly significant.

Katrina: I am going to interject here and just say that I had never been fishing like this.  My previous experience with fishing had been sitting on a bank, throwing the line out and waiting.  So I really didn’t know what to expect when I found out that we would be sitting all day in a boat.  I brought a lot of books and was prepared to nap!  But what I found out was, it was amazing out there.  There is a lot more to the ways you can fish from a boat which makes it really interesting.  And it was just so relaxing and fun, especially in the morning, the water is beautiful, the fresh air smells fantastic, and you don’t really have any responsibilities on a boat.  It’s not like you are expected to accomplish anything besides fishing out there!

Ft Peck Scenery.jpg

Day 2

Once again we woke early.  This time we tried further down the lake, we found where the electronics said we had fish, but they were not biting.  We used all types of colors, ranges of depths, and speeds, but to no avail.  The fish were just not biting.

We decided to take a break as it was very hot.  We moved into the main part of the lake and before we knew it Kevin had jumped in.  We all decided to follow suit and jumped in after him.  This was a great change to the day, it being so slow for so long.

After we all clambered back into the boat, we decided to try going around the edge of a cove trolling some of the spoons from JDR specialty tackle while bottom bouncing.  We were trolling along when Katrina called “I think I’m hung up!”  When I turned to look, the rod was bouncing heavily!  After a few more moments of reeling, to our disappointment, the line went slack.  After reeling in the line, I looked at the end and it was a clean break, telling us it wasn’t a snag, but rather a pike’s teeth that had done the job.  Unfortunately, we had not set up that pole with a steel leader.  Just a reminder that when you can, use a steel leader to help get the fish in the boat.

We moved down the bay, and a few minutes in, we were all reeling  up again as Kevin had hooked in to a fish.  However, this wasn’t an ordinary fish.  I happened to be watching Kevin as the fish hammered down the bottom bouncer and almost took the rod into the lake.  At times during this fight, the fish seemed to tear line from the reel, then Kevin would be able to catch up to him and get him closer to the boat.  However, after the five minute struggle, the fish, with his sharp teeth, cut through the line and left Kevin struggling to accept what had just happened.

After that fish, we decided to keep fishing that bay, as it seemed to be holding fish that were biting.  After another few minutes, we found out that we were going to have a “crappie” day!  Kevin hooked into the first one, and then one after another we all started catching these great pan fish!  We also caught a few walleye during that day and packed it up to head to camp and have another great dinner done by the whole crew.

Day 3 – Redemption

After talking the previous night, the gals decided they would like a morning off to sleep a bit more and enjoy their warm drinks (coffee and tea) while Kevin and I decided to head out.  This proved to be good for us, bad for the gals.

We decided to try to catch the walleye bite in the morning in the same bay that we had fished the day before.

We got to the bay early with no other boats around.  We decided not only to try to be there in the morning, but to also try  plastic baits on a jig head instead of spoons and bottom bouncers.  Almost right off we started catching crappie and a walleye here and there.  It was fun to be catching fish consistently which was a change from the past two days.

One of my casts in particular I threw towards the bank where we had fish the day before. This time, to my surprise, I ended up hooking in to something different!  It struggled and pulled differently than any of the fish I had caught prior, and after a couple of minutes, I ended up bringing to the surface a really nice smallmouth bass! We brought him in to the boat and took a couple of good pictures and then moved down shore, not 10 minutes later I brought in another one just about the same size!  I couldn’t believe it!  Two really nice bass within a couple of minutes.

bob-bass

After the two bass I thought it had been a really successful day and didn’t really expect much else from the day.  It was then I ended up hooking into another nice fish.  As I was reeling, it felt different as it was coming up.  When it hit the surface I was ecstatic.  It was about a 5 lb walleye, my biggest to date!  Kevin was giving me a bad time about my luck as we took a couple of pictures and put it on to the stringer.  Since it was a big fish I decided to put two hooks through his mouth so he wouldn’t get off.

bob-big-walleye

We kept on fishing for awhile, still in awe over the difference in this day.  I decided that I would look to see how the fish on the stringer were doing.  When I looked down I saw something terrifying.  My walleye had worked his way off one of the hooks and the other was open!  I set down my rod and was going to pull it up slowly so I could replace and close the hooks, but when he felt me pull up on the stringer, he shook right off of the hook and back in to the water.

This was devastating as he was by far the best Walleye I have caught and I definitely wanted to show Katrina a good sized walleye.  But after a few minutes we both got back to fishing.

kevin-bass

Kevin, running the boat and fishing from the bow, then got a bite and hooked into a good fish.  The fish came up relatively quickly, but it was another 5lb walleye.  Although we both knew it was a different fish, I couldn’t let him get off easy, so I told him thank you for getting my fish back into the boat.  This time we ran the string through the gill so there was no way for him to get off.

Kevin Walleye.jpg

It was about lunch time after Kevin’s fish so we headed back to shore to eat lunch and pick up the girls.  We then went right back out to that bay to see what else it would hold.

To our dismay, the rest of the day was filled with a fish here and a fish there, although Crystal did get a good sized bass.

crystal-bass

Day 4 –(4th of July) All good things must come to an end.

We woke up early to get a couple of hours on the water. Although this was a last ditch attempt we didn’t have very much luck.  A few fish here and there.  Kevin did, at the end of the morning, finally did catch the pike of the trip.

Kevin Pike.jpg

patriotic-flag
The clouds doing their part to celebrate the 4th of July

Things we did right:

Used electronics to find the fish

 kept trying different depths, colors, and methods

When we found something that worked, we stuck with it

Having friends and family around

Things we could have done better:

HAVE A LIVEWELL

Asked about what was working from a local shop before fishing.

Summer Fishing Series: Part 1- Fort Peck

We had some great experiences this summer and some of our favorites were the fishing trips.  Good food, good friends, lots of fishing and relaxing.  Rather idyllic actually…

We intended to post updates after each of these trips, but Summer got away from us.  So now you can check them out in this four-part series:  Ft Peck Trip 1(you are here); Ft. Peck Trip 2; Night Fishing/Perch Fishing, and Salmon fishing off the Oregon Coast.

Here’s Bob to fill us in on some of the highlights of the first Fort Peck Trip.

Part 1: Fort Peck, Montana in June

During the first part of June, my father (Nick), his friend (Cheri), and I made a trip to the biggest lake in Montana.  We were planning on spending five days on the water learning and catching fish in one of the best fisheries Montana has to offer.

 

Dad and Cheri met me at my house so I could  follow the truck/camper and boat combination.  After staying the night at a place about half way to the lake, we arrived about mid day to find our camping spot.  We spent the rest of the day setting up camp and getting my truck hooked up to the Lund boat my dad had purchased the year before.

That evening at dinner we were surprised to learn we did have data for our phones so we would be able to look at the fishing report.  After learning they were catching the fish in about 5-15 feet of water with green bottom bouncers, we thought we were set.

Day 1:

We were up early and got out onto the lake.  With Fort Peck having more shoreline than the entire West Coast, we really had a lot of options on where to start.  We decided to go across the lake to a spot around some islands.

After about 25 minutes of motoring across the lake and we were finally fishing.  I set up my bottom bouncing rig and got started.  About 20 minutes later after finding the fish, I finally got my first hit.  Although it wasn’t a good fish, it was a walleye and it was the first one on Peck!

About an hour later I was able to hook into another walleye, and then was followed by another.  That first day was kind of slow.

Bob Walleye

 

Day 2:JDR Lures

We decided that we would go further down the east arm and see what we could find.  After riding a bit further in the boat, we set up the bottom bouncing rig and then had another couple of walleye.

Not really getting into the walleye we were hoping for, I decided to test out the spoons I had purchased from JDR Specialty Tackle.  I was quickly rewarded with my first Pike and  Bass! These were caught by tossing them towards shore and then a slow retrieve back to the boat.  A couple of pike that day were also caught by trolling the spoons behind the boat while using the bottom bouncers.

We weren’t having the walleye we were looking for so we decided to move down the other side of the East arm.  I decided I was going to change it up though.  I had been using night crawlers on my bottom bouncer rig up to that point, but decided to try out minnows.  I put one on.  After about an hour of trolling the line went taut!  I ended up catching my biggest walleye to date!  It was about 5 lbs and ended up being the fish of the day.

Bob with Big Walleye

Day 3: Another spot

Since the previous day landed some great fish on that side of the lake, we decided to go down the east arm again.  After fishing for awhile we finally landed on the large amount of Walleye that Ft. Peck is known for. We were using a green bottom bouncer and we hit them hard.

We caught quite a few little walleye and some great eaters.  After awhile the fishing for the walleye went dead.  We decided that it was time to try some of the bays for the pike that might be lurking around.

Moving closer to the very north part of the lake, we were once again using the spoons I had purchased the prior week.  They didn’t disappoint.  We caught a few more pike and this wrapped up day 3.

Bob with Pike

Day 4: The game is on.

Knowing where we left the walleye the day before, we moved out to the same spot.  They were there again, and after about 6 hours of great fishing, we decided it was time to try the pike again.

This time the pike were unbelievable!  Cheri ended up catching a 9 lb pike and another 5 lb pike.  My Dad caught a good sized one that he ended up letting go since we had two good pike in the boat.

Bob & Cheri with Pike

Day 5: last half day

We needed to leave at about 1 to be able to get home, so we decided we would try for the pike one last time.  We went out to where we had caught those pike the day before but nothing was happening.  I finally dug it out, the box of lures my Dad had taken to Canada some 30 years prior.

I used one of the big poppers that moved quite a bit of water.  It was so crazy that I didn’t think it would work.  My Dad took a video of it because it was so loud.  I have attached a link to that video here.

Just after the video ended, a big pike hit the lure!  I was able to get him just about to the boat and he then made a second run and when he did this he was able to spit the hook. We were so bummed as this was the only fish we had hooked that morning.

I switched lures again and we made a round by the same spot.  This time no dice, but I did happen to see quite a few bass underneath the boat.

I told my Dad to pull one of the minnows out and put in on a light action rod with just a hook and a small split shot.  Within five minutes he had a great bass!  Both Cheri and I made the switch to the same set-up (not wanting to end up skunked) and a couple of minutes later Cheri had her bass.  Finally, I ended up with the same result.

It was quite fun as with those light action rods, the bass were able to make quite a few runs before they were brought up to the boat.

All in all this was a great trip with great memories!  We were able to discover and learn about this fishery and know what to do the next time we return.

Nick & Bob with Pike

 

 

Learn to Hunt Series: Intro

Hey everyone! It’s Katrina here. I wanted to tell you a little bit about a blog series I am going to start.  It’s going to be all about my journey as I learn more about how to hunt and fish and how to increase my fitness level to increase my capabilities in the field.  I grew up in a family where my dad and brother went hunting and fishing but I did more observing than actually experiencing these things for myself. I did a couple of easy deer hunts, shot a lot of gophers and really loved rifle club, but I want to find out what it means to gain the skills necessary to go on some serious hunts and take care of myself when we go fishing.

I hope you will follow along. I will be sharing great resources, tips and fun stories!  It doesn’t matter if you are a guy, a gal, a newbie or experienced outdoorsman, I think you will be able to get a lot out of this.

Here’s a list of articles you can look forward to:

Learn to Hunt Series: Resources

Learning From the Best: An Interview with my Dad

Archery Class

I Run Now Because…(I Don’t Want to Get Left in the Dust During Hunting Season)

I’m a Wimp and I Think It’s Gross to Put Worms on a Hook

Learning How to Process Game

Kat and kids 2015.jpg