Last Friday I received a call from my good friend Jens Gran from Polson. Gran lives on the south end of Flathead Lake on Bird Point. He is an avid fisherman and normally this time of the year a phone call from him will translate into a fishing report from either Flathead Lake or Lake Mary Ronan. In fact a few years back I proclaimed him the Lake Mary Ronan Guru due to the success that he had jigging up kokanee salmon.
Well I was correct on my assumption that his reasoning for reaching out to me had something to do with a fishing report. “The perch bite is on Flathead Lake, yesterday (Thursday) I went out and caught close to 50 perch between 9-10 inches”, Gran reported. “In fact I am in the process of cleaning them now”.
He went on to tell me he was fishing in 7 feet of water using a light jig tipped with a piece of night crawler in east Polson Bay on Flathead Lake. “There was not very many boats out there while I was fishing but that might have been because it was in the middle of the week”, he said.
I was actually surprised to hear the good news of the perch bite because just a week ago I was on the phone chatting with Dick Zimmer from Zimmers tackle and he figured that the perch bite on the lake might be delayed this year from the normal middle of April to the end of the month and maybe into the first part May because of the cooler weather. Zimmer has told me in the past that the perch really start to bite when the surface water temperature in east Polson Bay reaches in the mid 50’s. “The temperature on my fish finder showed 50 degrees”, said Gran when I asked him how warm the water was when he was fishing. So if you want some great table fare and a lot of fun fishing with the kids I might suggest heading up and trying your hand at catching some perch.
You also might want to bring your lake trout tackle if you are heading up to Flathead Lake because it sounds like the lake trout are biting too. A total of 17,300 lake trout entries have been received over the first four weeks of the Spring Mack Days. You might be like Kalispell angler Mike Shae who last Friday reeled in a lake trout that had been tagged that was worth $1000. For information on how to enter log onto mackdays.com.
Warmer temperatures and melted ice mean the annual walleye spawning operation on Fort Peck Reservoir getting into full swing. According to Heath Headley, Montana Department of Fish, Wildlife and Parks’ Fort Peck biologist, agency staff and volunteers are again trapping fish and taking eggs from areas in the upper Big Dry Arm of the reservoir. “The reservoir is about 2.5 feet higher than last year,” Headley said, “but we will continue to focus the operation near Nelson Creek.” FWP staff have been working on setting up spawning barges, holding pens, and test nets since the first week in April, and have begun spawning walleye.
Headley figures they are in full operation now. “We are looking to continue until we have our goal for this year, which is 50-60 million eggs.”
Last year according to their press release FWP staff and volunteers captured 19 different fish species for a total of 7,982 fish from March 29-April 21. Of that total, 2,672 were walleye. Female walleye collected averaged 7.2 pounds, with males averaging 1.7 pounds. The biggest walleye measured was 14.4 pounds.
(Written by Mark Ward)