Yes the bite is still on! That is the answer to the question that I am asked a few times a day by area anglers wanting to take advantage of the lake whitefish bite on Flathead Lake.
If last year was any indication on how long the bite will last, anglers can expect to catch whitefish into the middle of September. The last time that Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks attempted to find out how many whitefish were actually in the lake was in the late 1980’s.
“At that time, we figured there must be between 5 and 15 million,” said Jim Vashro, the Region One fisheries manager for FWP. It seems that now the lake is home to the higher number than the lower number.
“The closest we can figure is that only 40,000 are harvested each year,” said Vashro.
So when Gene Fincher asked Montana Fish Wildlife and Parks for the opportunity to have fishing tournament on Flathead Lake geared toward whitefish, he got the okay.
This weekend, August 24-26, the first Whitefish Jig Fest will take place on Flathead Lake. The Friday through Sunday tourney will award the top five whitefish by weight with cash prizes.
The entry fee is $20 and you can enter at the Vista Linda Cactus Cantina in Somers or by calling Fincher at 406-261-6445.
“We are expecting close to 1,000 anglers to fish this tourney,” added Fincher, “I am getting calls from states surrounding Montana with people wanting to enter.” More anglers are finding out about the whitefish on Flathead Lake and its liberal 100 per day catch limit.
“There are some anglers who have caught that many I am sure,” said Dick Zimmer from Zimmer Tackle in Pablo. Zimmer started making a lure that he labeled the “Rattle-D-Zastor” a few years back and now it seems that it is the lure of choice for most anglers.
It comes in 3/8 and 5/8 ounce size and in dark green and moss colored with green reflective tape. “I think we have sold over 8,000 lures since the beginning of the year,” said Paula Zimmer.
Zimmer Tackle wholesales most of it lures to sporting good stores throughout Western Montana. “It has been a challenge to keep up with the demand the fishery has created for the Rattle-D-Zastor,” added Dick Zimmer, “Once we think we have a handle on it we get orders for more.”
The state record was caught on a Rattle-D-Zastor last year on Aug. 26 by Swan McDonald. The fish was 27 inches long and weighed 10.46 pounds. McDonald was fishing just west of Bird Island when he hooked in to the big fish.
“If the state record is broken during the derby by someone who is entered then we will offer an additional cash prize,” said Fincher.
Popular spots to fish for Lake Superior Whitefish on Flathead Lake have increased over the years with more anglers out looking and fishing for them. Big Arm, Elmo, Rollins, Woods Bay and the mouth where the river runs into Flathead Lake called the River Delta are still active.
The most helpful hint is to fish in 45 to 50 feet of water. Some fish have been caught in as deep as 67 feet, with the fish generally going deeper during the middle of the day.
Tip you lure with maggots or in some cases just jig it with out. The main thing is to make sure you are vertical and on the bottom.
This Saturday we will be doing the Montana Outdoor Radio Show live on the water from 6-8am on:
100.1 FM/1070AM KATQ
KJJR 880 AM
KPRK 1340 AM
KLCM 95.9 FM
KVCK 1450 AM
KVCK 106.3 FM