One Lake Trouts journey in Flathead Lake




A Lake Trout with a history, from Flathead Lake Montana

A Lake Trout with a history, from Flathead Lake, Montana

A client caught this fish the other day, and just before I put it back, I noticed an old “Floy Tag” on its back. FWP did a lot of Lake Trout tagging in the late ’90’s right after Flathead Lake went through another historical change when the Mysis shrimp arrived from upstream. This tag was black and blending in with the dorsal fin. I pulled the tag trying to get the number off of it. I submitted the info to the lake trout guys at FWP and told them it was 33″ and about 13#. Right in the middle of our “must release” slot on the North end of the lake.  This is the info I received….

“Tagged on 11/2/1998 by Mr. Jim Funke at Bootlegger Island area. The mac was 22” long at the time (no weight given).”

“So it has been carrying that tag for about 17.64 years. Given the measurements then, and now, the fish has grown 11” during that time period. That is a growth rate of about 0.61” per year which falls in line with the many other green tagged fish returns we’ve seen.
Our old growth charts would show that fish to be about 8 years old when first tagged, therefore the total age now would be around 25+ years old. So, born around 1990, 91…”

Bootlegger Island is in the South end of Flathead Lake, in what is Known as “Mac Alley” around Wild Horse Island.

This fish was caught about 18 miles from where it was tagged, most likely having migrated North this Spring to take advantage of the Flathead River spring inflow, which floods the North end of the lake with food every year.
We tell our clients that Lake Trout only grow about a 1/2″ a year from the time they are 22-24 inches, and this bears that out.
This fish was born right at the peak of the major changes that Mysis shrimp wrought on Flathead Lake. It has seen and lived through a LOT, and I am proud to say, she swam right away, until we meet again, perhaps another day! Congratulations Jessica Christopherson