Yesterday, I spent a couple of hours on McWenneger Slough, East of Kalispell. This is a bio-diverse body of water without a single native species to fret about. My catch was primarily perch, but also included bass, pike, sunfish and crappie. On a 2 hook bottom weight set up, I fished a whole night crawler on the bottom hook and a half or smaller on the upper hook. Fishing a bright colored small jig below a bobber is another favorite technique; especially fishing in the midst of the lily pads that abound here. I didn’t start fishing until about 6.30 p.m. and did well in a short time. (See picture above)
Flathead Lake has muddied up from the river mouth almost as far South as Yellow Bay. Because the Earth’s rotation pull the river water west, there is clear water East, with a definite mud line moving west. You’ll still do well using conventional glow in the dark tackle in the clear water but in the muddy water, where (by the way) the lake trout have a tendency to become hyperactive, you’ll do best using larger 1 ½ oz and 2 oz jigs in red and orange glow colors.
Even trollers will have better success using bright red, pink and hunters orange colors.
When water temperatures reach 50 degrees, the bait fish will turn on in Polson Bay. Larger suckers and pike minnows begin to stack up on the West shore above the Armed Forces Memorial Bridge avoiding the swift current further East. Fishing a 2 hook setup in either size 6 or 8 above a fairly large no-snag sinker (1 to 2 oz) baited with a good amount of maggots works best. Corn is an option but doesn’t stay on the hook as well. Chumming with corn is also a plus ,from the Polson bridge on down the river maggots is the best bait probably because of the abundance of aquatic larvae in that rocky bottom. Anywhere else in Polson Bay night crawlers are best.
If you plan to commercial fish for bait fish call us at (406) 675-0068 so we can give you a heads up on proper care of the fish. Call the Tribal fish and Game at (406) 883-2888 to get information on being properly licensed.
The benefit of harvesting these fish is 3 fold:
- Its fun, fast fishing.
- It’s a great way for kids to learn fishing skills
- You can make money depending on how fast you can bait your hook and reel fish in. I recommend heavy tackle to speed things up and avoid losing tackle to the fisherman unfriendly river bottom.
- You create an environmental vacuum that can be filled with more desirable game species. Last spring there was more West slope cutthroat in the river than I’ve seen in 60 years of fishing there. The reports of bull trout caught in Polson Bay are on the rise.
There is about a 2 week window when a catch and release fly fisherman could have a great time fishing for cut-throat both at the Armed Forces Memorial Bridge and in Big Fork harbor where the Swan River enters the lake.
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