The Captain asked Jim Vashro, Regional Fisheries Manager if we would have a Whitefish bite this year on any of the Flathead area bodies of water. His response is below.
That’s dangerous ground… or waters…
We are saying the perch hatch/whitefish bite depends on spring weather. A series of springs with nasty cold fronts have resulted in no perch fry for the last 5 years. Last spring wasn’t bad and I stuck my neck out and predicted a decent chance for a whitefish bite. Then all of June was cold and rainy and the whitefish didn’t show. What we’re theorizing is that young perch were either flushed out or, more likely, it was so cold the zooplankton didn’t develop and the little guys starved to death.
SO, this spring was relatively mild. We had one strong front around the 20th of April, bad timing, after a lot of perch spawning, but it didn’t get real cold. So, is it the wave action and turbulence or the temperature drop that causes problems? Not having learned my lesson last year, I’m betting it’s the temperature drop that causes problems which would indicate there’s a fair chance for perch and therefore, whitefish this summer.
Nobody samples young perch, we won’t know until they, and the whitefish, show up or don’t show up, usually mid- to late July. The outcome this year will let us add another piece to the puzzle on what drives the system.
If anyone’s itching for lake whitefish, there’s a decent population in Echo Lake. Talked to an angler who caught 6 in an hour last weekend.
There’s no dock in at Echo Lake or at Smith Lake. The docks are on a rolling undercarriage so we can roll them in and out and they stay in place. Age and the elements caught up with both docks, they’re broken and we can’t deploy either one. We apologize for the inconvenience, we’ve got an emergency order in, hope to have new docks in by mid-July. Most boaters/anglers really appreciate docks for launching. What they may not realize is that an average dock costs $35,000-$40,000. It’s a big investment on shoestring budgets. We try to patch them as long as we can and try to plan ahead for replacement (about 8-10 years) but sometimes we run out of time.