You know, the more things change, the more they seem to stay the same. It was just like that in this year’s Great Montana Mack Attack.
All of us have heard that old saying and maybe even used it a time or two to describe things that happened in our own life. Well, this time, it covers the fishing techniques used in last weekend’s tournament held on Flathead Lake.
Some 400 anglers turned out to fish and have fun on the large lake of northwestern Montana.
Most boats were equipped with downriggers and some made use of GPS units to take them to their favorite fishing spot. And, of course, anglers flocked to sporting goods stores to find out what new lures were catching the most and biggest lake trout.
After it all said and done on Sunday afternoon, however, it was evident that two old familiar friends of Flathead Lake anglers were still producing the bigger fish – steel line and a Flatfish either in red or white or blue and white.
For many years, anglers would use steel line to get them to the bottom of the lake that held the current state record for a lake trout at 42 pounds. They would let out hundreds of yards of the line hoping that when they reeled it in, a fish would be on the other end of the line.
One of the anglers I fished with in the Mack Attack, Jens Gran from Polson who is a veteran in using steel line, brought his portable electric drill with a home made attachment that fits on the reel to make retrieving and checking the steel line a lot easier and faster.
Gran also produced both of the lures that caught all of our lake trout. A red and white mid-sized Flatfish with two single hooks and a red-eyed Wiggle Wort did the trick.
The way it follows the contour of the lake bottom is the reason steel line works so effectively in catching lake trout. By using 30-pound test monofilament leader, the Flatfish is able to dig its nose into the mud on the bottom of the lake and stir up things up to attract the bigger lake trout that seem to hang out in the depths of the Flathead.
By using this technique, we caught a 37.5-inch, 24-pound lake trout. Harry Hutchinson from Kalispell caught a 391/2 inch; 26.48 pound lake trout to win first place in the over-36-inch class and take home $1,000. Hutchinson reportedly was using steel line too – as were all the anglers that produced fish over 36 inches in length.
The Montana Outdoor Radio Show team of Jens Gran, Jaye Johnson of Charlo and Bill Kamps of Kalispell, along with myself, finally placed in a tourney this year. We took fifth place in the under-28 inch class with a 10.04 pound lake trout.
We caught the fish on Sunday, suspended over 100 feet of water at 80 feet with the red-eyed Wiggle Wort off a downrigger.
Johnson also employed his hand-held GPS unit to bring us back to the spot on the lake where the bigger Macks seemed to be. All toldm our team ended up catching six lake trout that measured 28 inches or over for the two days.
Other winners in the two-day tourney included: Scott Woodahl, also from Missoula, who placed third in the under-28-inch with a 10.4 pound laker; Pat Lash from Kalispell caught an 11.56 pound lake trout to win the under-28 class; Justin Scott won the Lake Superior Whitefish class with a fish that weighed in just under five pounds.
By the way, the bite seems to be on for whitefish off Woods Bay and many anglers were talking about 20-30 fish-per-day catches. Dan Forester won $200 by weighing in the largest N. Pike Minnow.
IN OTHER OUTDOOR NEWS: The North American Bear Federation is holding its inaugural banquet this Friday at the Doubletree/Edgewater in Missoula. Call 626-5592 for tickets.
Part of the night’s highlights will be the auctioning off of an alligator hunt among other unique auction items.