Anglers in Montana can certainly boast about their great fishing. The state offers fishing attuned to the tastes of just about every fresh water angler.
Just think about It. You can fish for Chinook salmon on Fort Peck, go after paddlefish in the spring on the Yellowstone and Missouri river. The state offers some places for tiger muskies in Eastern Montana.
You have largemouth and smallmouth bass, walleye, northern pike, an endless variety of trout, whitefish, crappie, perch, and kokanee salmon fishing in rivers and lakes across the state.
The fishing methods you can employ vary as much as the different fish anglers can go after. Add in the fact that our waters are relatively uncrowded and it’s an angler’s paradise.
This past weekend, my particular fishing of choice was lake trout on Flathead Lake. To catch them, boat anglers use three different methods – jigging, trolling, and fishing with a whole bait set-up on the bottom. Out of the three options, I enjoy trolling and jigging the best. That is until my last fishing trip.
I must admit that fishing with a whole bait set-up didn’t seem to get me excited. But Bob Culp from Frenchtown and Jens Gran from Polson fished this way a couple of weeks ago by Finley Point and the end result was impressive. They boated seven fish that day with the lake trout ranging in weight from 4 to 15 pounds.
A whole dead bait set-up includes two in-line lead sinkers and a treble hook with two rubber bands. You attach the whole bait with one of the hooks right behind the gill, then run the fishing line along lateral line of the bait and place two rubber bands one right behind the treble hook and another one closer to the tail.
We were anchored in 80 to 150 feet of water and had our best luck in 80 to 90 feet of water south of Finley Point. You place your bait on the bottom and crank up enough line so you have the inline sinkers just bouncing off the bottom. When the lake trout takes your bait, you will see the tip of your fishing rod react to the bite. This is where the fun really starts!
Open your bail on your reel and let the lake trout swim with the bait. The bigger the fish the faster and longer it will take your line off your reel. Wait until it stops, or your reel is about to run out of line, which happened more than once over the weekend. Then tighten your line so that you can feel tension on the other end and give a big jerk to set the hook.
More often than not you will have a lake trout on the other end. This method of fishing takes two kinds of patience. Sometimes it takes an hour or so between bites and then patience not to set the hook too soon before the fish gets the hook in its mouth.
September weather offers some awesome days on the water. Monday was one of those days. In a little over four hours my fishing party of three caught and kept 5 lake trout under 28 inches and caught and released 2 lake trout that were 33 inches in length.
It was just another great way to spend time fishing in Montana