Fishing Success with and without Bait: Captain’s Column
By angelamontana

Posted: May 23, 2013

The anticipation for the opening of fishing in May is always high at Lake Mary Ronan. The popular lake just west of Flathead Lake by the town of Proctor has its regulars that have not missed an opening day for many years. “My father in law has not missed an opening day here at Lake Mary Ronan for 40 years,” said Allan Evans from Missoula, “This was his 40th year in a row”. The Evans clan ended up catching and keeping 53 salmon on Saturday and Sunday.

I received a text from Jens Gran of Polson on Saturday it read simply, “Limited in 30 minutes”. Later in the day on Saturday, Jeff Smith from Missoula called, “Everybody is catching fish some folks are done fishing in 20 minutes”.

That was enough to get me excited to head up on Sunday. Angela, from, and her boyfriend, Jason Maxwell, decided that they would like to try their luck at catching kokanee salmon. It would be their first trip ever to Lake Mary Ronan.

We got on the water by 9:30, and by 11:30 we had our 30 salmon limit. Jason caught the first salmon within minutes. It took Angela a little longer, but with the help of the self-proclaimed Lake Mary Ronan Guru, Jens Gran, she quickly got the hang of the soft biting kokanee. We were using raw shrimp and shrimp oil on a glow hook and a Swedish pimple. We were fishing in 27 feet of water right in front of Camp Tuffitt.

When the fish are biting like that it was an easy decision go fishing again, so on Monday, I planned another trip to Lake Mary Ronan. This trip Steve Hellegaard and Don Beardsley from Missoula and Dick Zimmer from Zimmer’s Tackle joined me. The fishing was even better.

We had our limit of 40 fish in 50 minutes. After the cooler was full we decided to stay a while longer and catch release some salmon, all the while experimenting by using no bait on our glow hooks. The salmon were on the bite, and they hit the bait-less glow hook as if it had shrimp, corn or a maggot tipped on it.

I don’t know how long this exciting salmon bite will last but some of the so-called local experts think it might be going on for a couple more weeks. At one point, Zimmer experimented with a night crawler tipped on a larger green lure to see if he could catch a trout, he was not successful. But, he did end up catching a couple of larger sized kokanee. The average sizes of the fish are running 10-12 inches in length.

If you like a lot of action, Lake Mary Ronan might be a good bet to head for fishing this Memorial Day Weekend. There are, of course, other lakes for you to head to if you want to catch fish this weekend.

Spring Mack Days is over on Flathead Lake, but that doesn’t mean the lake trout have quit biting, and Zimmer also mentioned that he heard that some anglers were catching perch in east Polson Bay on Flathead Lake.

Have a safe and happy holiday weekend no matter where you go fishing!

(written by the Captain)