A bit about moisture, lake trout
By Hookemharry

Posted: March 31, 2005

Today is the last day of March and we’re in the home stretch for mountain moisture.

Spring snows are always critical to the annual water picture for Montana. We’ve got to have them because you learn very quickly that summer rains might come – might not – but snowpack is what best supports our streams.

In March, we received about average or even a touch above average precipitation in Western Montana. It certainly was not a drought-buster or even a low water stream saver for later this summer.

But it is the first month in while that we have come close to normal. Lets hope those April showers provide us with a lot more rain in the low country and snow up top. Your late summer fishing might depend on it.

Until then, you can always go fishing. Spring is here and Spring Mack Days are going strong on Flathead Lake.

The lottery-based derby, which started March 18, has been producing some nice catches and, in some cases, limits have been checked into derby headquarters.

Lake trout have been fishing well off of Rock Point on Flathead Lake. Bring a lot of anchor rope because the depths are in the 190 to 210 feet range. Once you get on top of a school of lakers, then jig up as many as you can.

Look for tackle set-ups from Dick Zimmer “The Macman” available at most sporting good stores for some good luck. They were designed to interest Flathead Lake macks.

Also, Zimmer is always helpful with information by phone 406-675-0068 if you need some advice.

Some anglers are also using a fly set-up about six inches above a Rattle-D-Zastor. Som times the fish will zero in on the fly tipped with maggots and sometimes they will hit the cut bait on the lure.

Anglers who want to enter the tournament, which runs through April 16, can log onto www.mackdays.com or call 406-883-2888, ext. 7294. They can also enter at Zimmer Tackle in Pablo.

All lake trout that are entered into the derby must be under the slot limit. That limit is 28 inches and under. Every fish that you enter will increase your chances of winning some of the cash and prizes that they are giving away.

For example, after the first three days, Martin Noyd had entered 60 lake trout and a number of anglers had entered over 40 fish. There is a large fish category but it is limited to specific days.

If you catch a lake trout over the slot limit which is 36 inches and you want to enter it in the derby you will then have to call a special cell phone number 406-270-3386 so they can weigh it and enter it right on the water.

Rick Skates, from Polson, caught a 21.5-pound lake trout that measured 39.1 inches in length to lead the largest fish category.

This procedure encourages catch and release of the larger lake trout. The idea behind the derby is to promote Flathead Lake as a trophy lake trout fishery. The last two state record lake trout have come from Flathead Lake, with the most recent being caught last summer by Ruth Barber of Somers. That fish weighed in at over 43 pounds.