There is one question on many anglers minds in Western Montana. Are the whitefish on Flathead Lake going to bite this summer? If the popular fish are going to bite this is the time of the year, that normally would happen.
The “Bite” has not happened for several years so anglers that have experienced the bite are anxious and have their ears to the water. The center for information on the bite undoubtedly is Zimmer Tackle in Pablo. Dick Zimmer is the creator of the famous Rattle-D-Zastor lure that most anglers will use if the whitefish bite ever begins. “Last Friday there was word of 10-15 whitefish being caught on Deadmans Point north of Big Arm on the west side of the lake”, reported Zimmer in an e-mail last week. Saturday morning Jens Gran from Polson called me and told me that he fished that area of the lake and caught two whitefish. “We were fishing in 75 feet of water where we were marking a lot of fish, but we only ended up with two, said Gran.
Tuesday, I called Chancy from Snappys Sport Senter in Kalispell to find out how the whitefsih bite was on the north end of the Flathead Lake. “I have heard reports of anglers picking up a whitefish here and there but nothing that indicates the bite has started”, reported Chancy. He did say that the anglers he had been talking to say that they have been marking a lot of fish on their fish finders in the 70-80 feet depth and they think they are whitefish but they can’t get them to bite. “That is typical for whitefish to stage in that depth and it is always hard to get them to bite”, added Zimmer, “when they are feeding on the perch they typically will get into the 40-45 feet depth and that is when they become very active and they bite aggressively”.
The young of the year perch that Zimmer is referring to are the perch that have been missing in the past when the bite never took place. I fish for walleye, northern, bass, trout, salmon and I can say fishing for whitefish is definitely one of the most fun fish to go after. You anchor and jig for the fish vertically so quite a few people can fish out your boat. The bite normally begins in the Big Arm, Elmo Bay area on the west side of the lake, which usually happens from now until the end of July. Then in August, Woods Bay on the east side and the river Delta on the north side of the lake normally see a good whitefish bite. That is if the bite materializes at all.
If you want to give whitefish fishing a try, I would suggest using a green Rattle-D-Zastor with green reflective tape tipped with maggots. Your boat will need to be anchored so you can jig vertical right off the bottom. Begin fishing early in the morning in 40-45 feet of water and work your way deeper later in the morning. Areas of the lake that would be best to fish Big Arm and Elmo Bay on the west side and the River Delta on the north side.
(Written by the Captain)