I’m Back

Neah Bay was a great time. We got our limits of salmon. The silver salmon run was at its peak and we got limits every day. We also had the odd year when the pink salmon run is on and we could add 2 pinks to our possession limit daily. We also caught our limits of rock fish daily , which amounted to 10 black sea bass and 2 lingcod. It was a good time and I reccomend the Neah Bay, Wa. area to the angler that likes to fish salt water.

Keep a tight line

 

Whitefish

                                     Lake Whitefish in Flathead Lake

 

Lake whitefish from the Great Lakes were introduced into Flathead Lake starting in 1890 to produce a commercial fishery. Lake whitefish soon became abundant and commercial fishing was tried several times around 1915 but abandoned because of the bycatch of trout and lack of market. Lake whitefish became one of the most abundant fish in Flathead, making up 70 percent by number of gillnet catches, but were largely ignored by sport anglers. In the 1990s Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks started promoting lake whitefish for sportfishing but initial attempts were greeted with scorn and amusement. However, how-to guides along with high limits have converted many skeptical anglers over to these hard-fighting and tasty fish.

It is possible to catch lake whitefish year round but the most popular fisheries have been when fish are congregated enough to produce large catches. These include the summer fishery (late July to early September) at locations around Flathead Lake, fishing over spawning shoals in late October and November, the Flathead River run in October through early December and some limited ice fishing in lake bays. Each fishery requires different locations and tactics.

By far, the summer fishery is the most popular. So why are some years good fishing and some years poor? Well, it mostly depends on storms in spring. The summer concentrations of lake whitefish are feeding on huge schools of young of the year (YOY) yellow perch. Yellow perch spawn in Flathead Lake from mid April into May when water temperatures reach 45-50 degrees. Perch spread their eggs over aquatic vegetation in 5’-10’ of water, a single female can produce 10,000 to 50,000 eggs. Eggs incubate 10 to 20 days before hatching. Strong cold fronts during that time can drop water temperature enough to kill developing eggs or wave-caused turbulence can knock eggs into the sediment where they smother. Colder water also may delay zooplankton blooms which young perch need to feed on after hatching. Spring, 2009, had two strong storms. One was in around April 20th with temperatures near freezing and winds to more than 20 mph which probably killed all eggs to that point. There was another strong storm around May 10th that dropped snow and probably killed any attempts at late spawning.

In a better year perch will hatch and spread across the surface of the lake by the millions. Around mid July the young perch are 1” to 1-1/4” long and they start to form large schools and drop to the bottom on weeds and gravel patches in 35’ to 40’ of water. In good years the perch will show as black balls on fishfinders. Lake whitefish normally feed on insects and small clams but they happily take advantage of this perch food source, along with lake trout and probably larger perch. That’s why green and yellow-green jigging spoons and other lures that imitate small perch work so well. The most YOY perch we have seen in one whitefish stomach was 37. The perch stay schooled until late August when changing weather and strong fall storms disperse them and the whitefish. The whitefish next show up in October on spawning shoals around the lake and sometimes on calm days in football-field sized schools slowly porpoising on the surface in some kind of prespawning concentration. Noone has been able to get the surface fish to bite but spawners will hit jigging spoons on the bottom.

 

For more information, Fish, Wildlife and Parks at 752-5501

JV8/09

picking up

The lake trout fishing on Flathead is getting better. We had a very good day yesterday. I had a great group from Canada, we put 8 nice fish in the cooler, released 3 slot fish and released one over the slot at 37″ 19lbs. It was a good day in spite of the weather. I was fishing SE of the delta using flatfish. Matt did well east of the delta area south of the stump, and Tommy did real well in McGovern Bay, west towards Somers. If our weather settles down I think the fishing will get better.

I am heading to Neah Bay Wa. this saturday for a weeks vacation. Go figure, going fishing on my vacation! Going after salmon and rock fish. I will let you know how it goes.

See ya out there

Lake Koocanusa

We are starting to book many charters for Lake Koocanuse for this November. If you are interested call early as I only fish the month of November for the rainbows.

See Ya on the water

Whitefish?

Where have all the whitefish gone? Still no show for a whitefish season. The biologist  tell me that it was to cold and to windy when the eggs were to hatch. When it is windy it breaks the eggs loose from the weeds, and/or rocks that they are attached to and they get blown around and die, and it was very cold at that time, that added to the kill.

Sorry!