Have Duck Boat, Will Travel

From Pintails to Mallards, share your Montana duck hunting stories here in the land of the Big Sky country.

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Have Duck Boat, Will Travel

Postby darcher » Sat Oct 27, 2012 2:23 pm

I have my new duck boat finished. I've been on the Flathead Lake and River with little success. I will go out tomorrow on Flathead Lake. I want to make one trip with my camper. The cost of fuel is so high and my finances so low that I can not afford to travel any further than six or seven hours from Missoula, maybe once. I realize that some people on this forum raise hell if you ask any information on a specific piece of water. Oh, well, raise hell. I am wondering about boating and hunting on Lake Elwell (Tiber), Fresno Reservoir or Lake Frances. (Perhaps these waters don't attract ducks.)

Two summers ago I looked around Canyon Ferry in the Townsend area, but I could find no boat launch sites. It seemed like every road led to a ranch. I was traveling through the area on a Sunday, and my wife was getting impatient to head home.

Many years ago I stopped in Fort Benton. I've read a number of posts regarding navigating the Missouri River and concerns over prop damage. Is this a concern for a fifteen-foot light fiberglass boat with a 4-stroke, short-shaft 15hp above or below Fort Benton?

Finally, I had thought of a trip to Ennis Lake and Hebgen Lake. Is Ennis Lake so low that a boat cannot be launched? I used to scull on Lake Ennis over thirty years ago. I wonder if a boater can get close to cover on the inlet end of the lake?

Would anyone be willing to give me some guidance?

Dave Archer
Florence, MT
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Re: Have Duck Boat, Will Travel

Postby Force Fetch » Sat Oct 27, 2012 3:11 pm

Dave, Tiber is holding ducks as we speak, lots of ducks. There seems to be a lack of geese though, but that may change at any moment. There are lots of good launches around the lake and good camping spots at Stafford Park below the dam and the VFW Campground above the dam, it also has a launch site. Your boat may be a little small if the wind comes up but there are plenty of places to hole up, it just might not be fun.
If I were using a prop boat on the Missouri, I would stay below Ft Benton, probably around Loma, there is a good launch and camp ground on the river. The Loma Cafe is owned by a fellow duck hunter and the food is out of this world and not yuppie expensive.
Like with all waterfowl hunting timing is everything. As I said about Tiber, we put 5-8K Mallards to bed in the stubble last night after shooting 4 limits, and they had to return to the water so finding them is your only problem. Birds had been trading all day is the way we found their feeding area, and another two hours getting permission. There is lots of BMA-State Trust land that you can access all around the lake, and much of it is ag land, and I believe all the boardering shoreline and islands are BLM so no problem there.
In the past my crew has had some good shoots on Tiber, we use a Lund Tyee to get around and sometimes it can be rough.
I hope this has been of some help, you will notice I didn't give you GPS coordinates, but the ducks move all the time.
Enjoy if you go.
Wayne
GT. Falls
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Re: Have Duck Boat, Will Travel

Postby darcher » Sat Oct 27, 2012 6:54 pm

Wayne, thank you so much for the info. I spent all day on Google Earth looking at Bynum Reservoir and Pishkun Reservoir etc. I do worry a bit about high winds, but I made a promise to myself and my wife that if I had to I would sit out a a rough spell rather than cross dangerous waters. (I've had a couple of very scary crossings. The first time should have been enough.) Truth be told, a good day for me is three in the boat, along with "I should have had; I could have had; I might have had..." I love my new boat, and circumstances put me in debt for a new Honda 4-stroke. What fun that motor is. A lot more power than my old 15 Johnson, which I could sometimes not start and would have to return home. I have an electric start that I have not hooked up yet because it actually starts with a feeble pull! I'm ready to hit the road.
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Re: Have Duck Boat, Will Travel

Postby Force Fetch » Mon Oct 29, 2012 11:49 am

I don't know the water conditions at Bynum or Pishkin this year. Both have been good in the past for snowies and ducks, I just don't hunt there a lot any more. I have a jet and mainly hunt the Missouri.
I had my nephew out deer hunting yesterday about 20 miles north of GF, his first deer hunt. The wind howled and was muddy so we called it a day after 5 hours of searching. Now the good news. We watched good bunches of swans, and one lone snow goose with one bunch setting on prairie lakes. I also checked out some ponds for duck hunting later in the week and there were lots of mallards and some pintails on most of the stock ponds, so the odds of having a good shoot on the above mentioned lakes and Tiber are pretty good. I know you can launch at Tiber, I don't know about Bynum and Pishkin.
You are right about the Honda being a quiet workhorse.
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Re: Have Duck Boat, Will Travel

Postby darcher » Mon Oct 29, 2012 2:16 pm

I'm heading out tomorrow. I'll try Bynum and Pishkun to see if I can find an easy launch (heavy camper). Tiber Reservoir scares me. Judging from Google Earth, it would appear that I would have to cross big water and go long distances to find shallow water or duck cover. I had no idea that it was such a big reservoir. Does anyone know if there is a boat launch other than at the dam? I know that I am pushing the limits on what people are willing to share. I followed the long arm northwest of the dam, but I could see no place that offered a boat ramp. At any rate, I will stop at Freezeout and see if my lab can get on some pheasant scent. Years and years ago I hunted out of a boat at Priest Lake with marginal success. Hey, I'm looking forward to the adventure. (Retirement sucks!)
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Re: Have Duck Boat, Will Travel

Postby Force Fetch » Mon Oct 29, 2012 3:59 pm

Dave, there is a good launch on the southeast end of the lake. When you come from Bynum go past Conrad to the Tiber Turnoff.
Follow it out to the Bootlegger and go north to the lake, you cannot miss the turn to the launch. There is some good hunting on that side of the lake. If you get messed up, stop at the place on your left with the hanger,ask Kirby or Penney to give you directions, it is right after you make the turn on the Bootlegger. If he isn't doing anything he may go to the lake with you, a fellow duck hunter.
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Re: Have Duck Boat, Will Travel

Postby relocatedduckman » Mon Oct 29, 2012 7:22 pm

Dave,

You can come to Tennessee and we will do some layout boat hunting here for Redheads/cans/buffalo heads/ mallards/teal/wood ducks/scaup/rignecks/mergs.. ect
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Re: Have Duck Boat, Will Travel

Postby Wack em', stack em', pack em' » Mon Nov 12, 2012 10:25 pm

What about places around Cascade on the Missouri? Foot access is key for me. I have been seeing fowl, but dead on foot access locations for dekes.
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Re: Have Duck Boat, Will Travel

Postby Force Fetch » Wed Nov 14, 2012 11:50 am

There is some access for the foot hunter, try the BMA's and Fishing Access's around Cascade or up by Ulm. You will have to have a dog to do the retrieving as anything that falls will be over your head in most cases. There are also some good hike in places near Craig.
I hunt out of a boat so hike in hunters don't bother my shooting.
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