Whitefish watch on at Flathead
By Hookemharry


The land fireworks are over for folks who had a good time celebrating the 4th of July, but the water fireworks are about to start on Flathead Lake.

Those fireworks come in the way of lake superior whitefish. Yes the “Whitefish Watch” is officially on. I can’t tell you how many times people have asked me in the last couple of weeks: “Are the whitefish biting?”

My response to the question is the same every time: “They normally start to bite after the 4th of July and into the middle of July.” I always refer them to Dick Zimmer in Pablo at Zimmer’s Tackle (675-0068).

I did just that a couple of days ago and this is what Zimmer had to say, “We heard that Charlie Davies caught 10 whitefish on the north part of the lake.” Added Zimmer, “ Now, that does not mean a whole lot because Davies is an excellent fisherman so the best report that I can give you is a lot of fish are staging in Big Arm and Elmo Bay waiting for the perch smolts to arrive.”

After the spring spawn, the perch minnows hang in about 10 feet of water all over the lake. When they start looking for bigger food is when they head for the vegetation which normally runs in 30 to 50 feet of water.

The water temperature might have something to do with this so with the warmer weather, the perch could be heading their whitefish feeding grounds any day.

I wouldn’t be surprised if the bite starts this long weekend, as boaters will be looking for them while they are out fishing Flathead Lake. Zimmer’s Rattle-d-Zastor, which is available at local sporting good stores, has worked extremely well in the past.

Rattlesnake and Kastmaster lures are also a good bet along with needlefish. Most lures need to have a little reflective green tape on them and tipping them with maggots can improve your chances for the fish to bite.

“Bass fishing has been good on Ninepipes and Kicking Horse reservoirs,” added Zimmer. “The salmon fishing on Lake Mary Ronan has picked up but still is a day to day thing”.

Lew Tripp (Rainbow Rudy) of Frenchtown had a couple of good days on the Clark Fork River. “We caught some nice trout and released a five- pounder,” said Tripp. “I also had a big fish on but couldn’t raise it off the bottom before it broke me off.” Tripp thinks the fish might have been a huge northern pike.

“Rock Creek has given some anglers 100 fish days,” reported Doug Persico of Rock Creek Fisherman Mercantile. “Most of the fish are smaller but about every fourth fish will be a nice trout”. For the latest on what to use on Rock Creek, give Persico a call at 825-6440.

The trout fishing is fair over on the Helena reservoirs. Walleye fishing has started to slow down on Holter Lake. Canyon Ferry walleye fishing is slow but the fish might just come into the south end for a feeding frenzy which can be a lot of fun if you hit right.

“The walleye bite started early this year in the first part of May on the south end of Canyon Ferry so some of the speculation is that the fish have already started spread out toward their summer spots in the northern part of the lake. That makes them harder to locate and key in on than when they’re concentrated near the dikes,” reported Mark Henckel, the outdoor editor of Billings Gazette.

Whether the fish are biting or not on your water of choice, one thing we we all know for sure is that cool waters are a good place to be during the heat of summer. Just drink plenty of fluids, pack your sunscreen and take a kid fishing with you.






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