An Afternoon Fishing the Flathead River
By Matt Schauer

Posted: April 10, 2012

The fishing trip to the lower Flathead River was put off for various reasons. Weather, commitments and appointments, all factored in for not making my first trip of the year to fish for northern pike sooner. I decided over the weekend that I would make time on Monday afternoon.

I looked at the water flow on the Water Data page on and found that the Flathead River, near Perma River, was flowing about 11,000 CFS and it was about 11 feet high. Very fish able water conditions. The weather was supposed to be overcast and in the 65 degree range.

I hit the water about 2pm and headed down river to one of my favorite fishing holes. I love to fish using smelt with a bobber and had some great days, in past years, fishing for pike with this method. However, this year for some reason the store I normally buy smelt from did have some smelt, but they were only 2 inches in length. In a hurry I bought a small package hoping that the minnow size smelt would work. I also dug into my freezer and took along a package of four frozen pike minnows that were more the normal smelt bait size, in the 6 inch length class.

Once I arrived to my fishing hole, I then discovered that I didn’t have any bobbers that would work to hold up the bait and the weight on my line in the river current. So I decided to fish on the bottom. My patience was short that day, so I only tried that method for about an hour. Knowing that my time was limited on this fishing trip, I decided to cast swim bait in the weeds. I did this for about another hour with no luck and then decided to troll along the weed beds back up to the boat ramp. I pulled a D-13 jointed Rapala with a orange back/belly and cream colored bottom. It is the same lure that Bill from Rock Creek Marina used when we went fishing for pike on Fort Peck last year. It wasn’t long before the rod bent over. The fish on the other end of my line felt big. I was looking forward to seeing how how big the pike would be. The fish put up a good fight but ended up being a 18 inch Smallmouth Bass. That surprised me because the water temperature was in the low 40’s and I didn’t think the bass would be active. Anyway after a quick snap shot, I released this nice size smally back to where it came from.

It wasn’t long until I finally had the fish that I came for on the other end of the line. A 34 inch pike thought my orange jointed rapala looked pretty tasty. It put up a good fight and was a real experience trying to net.

As you all know any day you can spend on the water is a lot of fun. Catching two nice size fish just topped the trip off. Enjoy the pictures and for a look at the rapala lure that I was using watch the video from Bill at Rock Creek Marina and check out other videos in our Fishing Video Gallery.


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