Could it be that the whitefish bite has begun?
By Hookemharry

Posted: July 1, 2006

When my cell phone rang earlier this week and when the caller ID said 675-0068, I knew that it was Dick Zimmer, “The Macman” on the other end with a fishing report.

“I just thought I would let you know that I was fishing in Elmo Bay on the west shore of Flathead Lake and,” he began before I interrupted him and told him what he had called to tell me, “The whitefish are biting.”

Zimmer laughed.

He went on to explain that he went by himself because he classified the fishing trip as research and development and he didn’t want anyone getting impatient as he tried to find out if the whitefish had indeed begun their annual bite.

“I started in Big Arm Bay and worked my way in front of the Elmo State Park boat ramp,” Zimmer said. “By the time I reached that spot, it was about an hour before sunset.”

Zimmer said he boated 15 whitefish in the hour before dark and said many times, after reeling one rod in with a whitefish on, the other rod was ready to be hauled in with another one.

I then asked Zimmer if he wanted me to tell people that the whitefish bite was officially on.

“I plan to go out again today (Tuesday) and see how I do and I will let you know,” he told me.

So I’m excited. The annual whitefish bite is a great event. And, like many of you, I’m anxiously awaiting his verdict.

It’s a big enough event on Flathead Lake that I’m sharing the news now, even through my newspaper deadline hits before I can give you the final verdict.

I simply figured that you, too, want to do some research and development on your own as this bite starts, you now have an excuse.

You can tune in to my Saturday morning radio show to find out if, in fact, we can say The Whitefish Bite is on. The Montana Outdoor Radio Show airs from 6 to 8 a.m. Saturday in Missoula on KGVO-1290am, Polson KERR 750am and Kalispell KJJR 880am.

Regardless of how he does, it is good news to hear the whitefish being caught this early in the summer. Normally, it’s a last week in July event.

Speaking of Flathead Lake, Cindy Bras, from the Conferedeated Salish and Kootenai Tribes, tells us that with the warmer days, the lake trout will be moving into deeper, cooler water.

Try different depths and watch for small fish concentrations on your fish finder. Lake trout will normally lie on the bottom, but baitfish will be suspended nearby. When you locate these suspended fish, try to anchor and then jig on the bottom underneath the baitfish.

Change locations about every half hour to an hour until you get bites. Another way to locate a higher number of fish is to troll for them.

Once you pick up a couple in the same area, then try to anchor and jig. Bras recommends putting on bright florescent green or yellow lures with a chunk of cut bait.

Another good tip is to change your bait about every hour. Fresh bait always seems to work better than bait that you have left on for a while.

Plan to compete in the annual Great Montana Mack Attack August 5 and 6th. The derby headquartered out of Del’s Bar had over 750 anglers last year. This year, derby organizer Gene Fincher is expecting over 800. You can register at Del’s Bar in Somers on the north end of the lake.

Scott and Cindy Sundheim of Fairview, measured just one 2.32-pound walleye last Saturday, but when you added the 37.7 pounds they caught the day before, they ran away with the championship of the Montana Governors Cup Walleye Tournament by almost five pounds.

A total of 85 teams competed in this year’s event. The Sundheims won $8,500 for their efforts as the teams battled big winds both days of the event on Fort Peck Reservoir.