During spring, summer, and fall, I bask in the glory of good streamer and dry fly action. Nary a whitefish to be had. All trout, all the time.
But, this spring and summer's streamer fishing has been peppered with the presence of the Northern Pikeminnow. A fish that, like the whitefish, is native to the waters around Missoula. A fish that, like the whitefish, is not particularly pretty.
|One of many.|
According to the Montana FWP Field Guide,
The predaceous Northern Pikeminnow is native to Montana west of the Continental Divide. It is somewhat pike-like in appearance with its large mouth and elongated body. Northern Pikeminnow prefer lakes and slow-moving waters. They are considered to be highly undesirable in some situations because they feed on young sport fish. They are effective predators despite their lack of teeth. Northern Pikeminnow are among the largest native North American minnows.Behind every piece of large woody debris, in every back eddy, along each undercut bank and in each backwater in the Bitterroot, I have caught a pikeminnow. All on streamers. Many of them smaller than the streamers themselves. Other friends have caught larger ones in the Clark Fork and the Blackfoot. The first couple are cool. A nice change of pace and always a surprise. But, lately, they have been wearing on me. They are every where trout should be and they will seemingly eat anything that swims. They are the streamer fisherman's whitefish.
Why are they showing their ugly mugs this year? Is it a result of the removal of Milltown Dam and the subsequent decrease in the population of pike in our local rivers and backwaters? Maybe. I don't know.