Fishing opportunities have been enhanced recently with the summertime like temperatures that Western Montana experienced late last week.. My bet is if you haven’t been out on the water yet you probably are getting your boat and fishing gear ready to go. The weather got me motivated to get my boat ready to head out on the water. My first call was to Dick Zimmer at Zimmers Tackle to see if he wanted to go perch fishing in east Polson Bay on Flathead Lake.
Zimmer has been having a lot of success fishing for perch and was documented with a couple of reports on montanaoutdoor.com , “There are millions of perch in east bay right now getting ready to spawn and they are spread over a wide area in the bay” he said. However the day I called Zimmer he was heading to Lake Mary Ronan to see if the kokanaee salmon were biting. We decided during our phone conversation that we would go fishing either to Lake Mary Ronan or Flathead Lake depending on his success catching kokanee that day. Well Zimmer only caught one fish on Lake Mary Ronan so it was perch fishing. The spring water draw-down has made the water elevation on Flathead Lake low. Launching and loading your boat from the public ramp by the Kwa Taq Nuk Resort can be challenging. Bring a pair of hip boots or waiters to help you in that process. Once we arrived in east Polson bay the perch fishing was as advertised-excellent!
Fishing in 3 feet of water it easy to see the perch on the bottom and they were everywhere you looked. It didn’t take me long to catch as many of 9-10 inch perch that I was willing to clean for a nice meal, I spent the rest of the time watching the perch react to my baited hook as I attempted to jig them off the bottom. Two things stood out for me. When we first started fishing the perch bite was aggressive. After a couple of hours the fish bite was less aggressive. With a less aggressive bite the perch would take my bait in their mouth and move it but when I went to set the hook they would let go without being hooked. The jigging motion almost seemed to scare the perch that were close, but at the same time jigging would attract perch that were a few feet away.
The perch seemed more likely to pick the bait up when it was motionless rather than when it was moving up and down by jigging. However at the same time the perch seemed easier to hook after casting out and retrieving back to the boat in more of a horizontal motion. The perch were also harder to hook when I could see them rather than when I couldn’t and would set the hook by feel of the rod. They also looked bigger under the water. Ever heard a fishing story about the big one that got away? So the next time I am fishing for trout or walleye and the bite is good for a while then falls off, instead of thinking that the fish have moved, I might try a different technique because chances are the fish are still where they were when the bite was on.
By the way Jens Gran from Polson did get into a good kokanee salmon bite on Lake Mary Ronan last Saturday. Gran found the fish in 20 feet of water and had luck jigging a glow hook tipped with raw shrimp.
(Written by the Captain – aka Mark Ward)