The lake trout bite on Montana’s Flathead Lake has reached a frenzy.  Over the last week, we have boated over a dozen fish in the 15 pound and larger range.  In the last couple of days, the bite on “The Delta” area has hit overdrive.

One of the best reasons to hire a flathead lake charter captain is the equipment.  A Able has been working hard all spring to fine tune our baits and gear to provide our customers with equipment that catches fish.  I believe we have developed one of the most consistent approaches to putting big fish in the net, with tackle that anyone can handle.  Our approach to putting numbers in the cooler, if that is your goal, is as good as or better than anyone elses out there.

Fishing for trophy Lake Trout (Mackinaw) on Montanas Flathead Lake, with some of the Flathead Valleys most experienced and enthusiastic fishing guides, is the best way for you to land the fish of a lifetime.  Lets go fishing!

 

 

 

Yes, there are still some big lake trout left in Flathead, if you know where, when and how to fish for them!  We always strive to boat a big fish or two for our clients first thing in the charter, then we can move on to put some eaters in the box.  Of course, we work hard to meet our clients requests, whether it is only for a fish of a lifetime, or meat for the freezer, or as is most often the case, a little of both.

 

This fish came off an Ace Hi fly (www.silverhorde.com) in 150′ of water and was brought to the Frabill net with a custom Fetha Styx Chrome Series 8′ 6″ downrigger rod by Robert Mueller of Georgia.  The fish was 14 1/2 pounds and taped at 34.5″.  This is in the slot on Flathead and was released unharmed. Well done Robert, who else wants to go catch trophy lake trout?

 

This fishery West of Kalispell continues to put out some nice fish!  The water temps have been hovering right around 51-52 degrees F and that means active fish.  The weather is such that it’s keeping the kokanee near the surface and these big rainbow trout take advantage of that.  Planer boards with flies and plugs as far out and away from the boat as you can get them and a speed from 2.5 to 3.2 mph is the ticket.  Lyman Lures and Silver Horde plugs in kokanee colors and big streamer flies in muted colors are the lures of choice.  A little scent never hurts!

 

Doug Bolender of Kalispell shows of a nice 8.2# fish he recently caught while fishing with long time friend Dan Smith.  Fish was caught on a pink and blue Lyman plug behind a set of boards Doug made.  After a limit of salmon each, the guys switched over to trolling for rainbows and caught this fish in the mid afternoon.  Well done guys!

I recently had an article published online, and I think it can help you put some more fish in the net.  It was written about fishing Flathead Lake in May, but with our spring…it will carry into June for sure!  Enjoy!

 As Featured On EzineArticles

http://ezinearticles.com/?Lake-Trout-Fishing-in-Montanas-Flathead-Lake,-The-Largest-Natural-Freshwater-Lake-in-the-West!&id=7039361

A Fine Montana Rainbow Trout and the Fetha Styx rod that subdued her.

I have had a chance to fish several of the Fetha Styx rods now and all I can say is WOW!  I have had the Chrome Series FS-ST-963-2C rod in the boat for a while now, and while I have been using it in the downrigger, it’s when the fish is hooked that that no longer matters.

The quality of construction is quite evident, and this is their “value” line…The feel of the rod, the way you can feel every movement of the fish and the fact that is designed, built and finished in the USA has me sold on Fetha Styx.

I am looking forward to fishing the “built for Flathead” Chrome Series downrigger rod that Fetha Styx built from and for my input but I can already tell there will be more of these in my boat very soon.

Yesterday, I got to fish a couple of the “Homewater” series rods…WOW factor over the top!  The Homewater Series rods I got to try were the FS-HW-SH-922-2C Steelhead Casting Rod and the FS-HW-SH-981-2S Spinning Rod. While the spinning rod is an ultra light Steelhead rod made for throwing small baits across big rivers, and feeling every tick of the small jig as it bounces along the bottom of the river bed, it actually can cover a lot more work than that.

Of the two, it’s the spinning rod that now resides in my rod rack, and it will not leave that rack until I get a case for it. It is the first ULTRA premium rod I have ever owned and I intend to treat it with the care it deserves!

If you are at that point in life where quality trumps price and you are ready for a rod unlike any you have owned before, you must check out the Fetha Styx line. Salmon, Steelhead, and Bass specialty rods, as well as freshwater models made for a broad spectrum, they have a rod for you. And NO, you can’t borrow ANY of mine…

7 pound rainbow

Took Bill Boyce and Mark Spada from Fetha Styx rods up to Bitterrot on Friday. The wind forecast for Lake Trout fishing on Flathead Lake was not looking good, and the guys wanted to fish for Rainbow Trout and Kokanee Salmon anyway. Bill brought a couple of Fetha Styx rods to try out, so we hooked up my Raider Boat Company 2484 Sea Raider and off we went.

Trolling planer boards made by a friend and using Riviera Trolling Company Planer reels we hooked into a nice 7.5 pound rainbow within the first hour, right as the chop really started to form on the water. The fish hit a Captain Andy’s white streamer fly on the surface, about 150 feet behind the board. I cleared the line and handed Bill the new Chrome Series 9’6″ Steelhead model rod that I have been fishing for the last month or so.

With the drag set very lightly, and using the power of my new favorite rod, Bill brought the fish to the net handily. Mark had the video running the entire time, and after some photo’s we weighed, measured, bled and iced the fish. It weighed 7 pounds 5 ounces and taped right at 26 inches. Not the biggest fish in the lake, but a great start to the day.

We only caught one more rainbow, a little guy, but we netted our limit of bigger kokanee and a few more under the regulation as well. The wind blew hard most of the late morning so we moved to the east side of the lake to get a little break from it. We were into fish, but they were not feeding over in that area. We wrapped it up around 12:30.

All in all a decent morning of fishing with a couple guys I am glad I got to know! The fish were in the brine by 6:00PM and will be on their way to the guys early in the week. They were impressed with the Double Spin Kokanee lures made by my good friend Pete Jellar of Petes Tackle here in Kalispell, so I gave them each a few to take home and fish. We caught most of our Kokanee on those lures, they do catch the Kokanee! Bill also got a couple of Petes Walleye harnesses to try out this weekend as well. (Pete, I need some re-stocking buddy!)

Looking forward to fishing the new downrigger rod Bill built for me this week on Flathead Lake as we have several trips on the books for early this week. (Not sure how the bet worked out between Bill and Mark for the biggest Kokanee, I’m sure it will be a topic of discussion between them for some time…)

Here is an email I got from Jim Vashro, Region 1 Fisheries Manager.  Gives us hope that we may once again get a Lake Superior Whitefish bite on Flathead Lake this summer.

 

“Well, people have been asking so I’m going to stick my neck out. Flathead Lake had very good fishing for lake whitefish in 2004-2007. Fishing was then very poor in 2007-2011. Lake whitefish are one of the most abundant fish in Flathead Lake but they are generally scattered and deep. That changes in years with good perch hatches. Large schools of young perch move near shore in mid-summer and whitefish schools move in to cash in on a great food source. Interestingly, many lake trout also show up to either eat perch or eat the fish that are eating perch.

Our theory is that weather during perch spawning and hatching, roughly mid-April to mid-May, determines perch year class strength. Strong cold fronts produce a drop in air and water temperature with accompanying strong winds. The fronts can stop spawning in its tracks and the changes can kill or dislodge perch eggs stuck to vegetation in shallow water. 2004-2007 had relatively mild springs. 2007-2011 saw one or more very strong cold fronts each spring with air temperatures dropping to the mid-20s and wind speeds up to or exceeding 30 mph. 2011 was hit even harder by high water outflows that may have flushed what few perch hatched and continued cold weather into June that delayed zooplankton development and starved what few young perch were left.

This spring saw good numbers of perch spawners and the spawn appeared to be steady. We’ve had a few windy days but nothing over mid-20s for mph and temperatures have been in the 30s or above. I would say the signs point to a good or better lake whitefish fishery in  Flathead Lake  this summer. We’ll see by mid July if I’m eating whitefish – or crow.”

(I submitted this OP-ED piece to several newsapapers…none chose to run it…)

 

The Flathead Lake co-management plan, was designed to cover a 10 year period from 2001-2010. It was a plan to help recover native fish populations that had been determined to be on a course of possible disappearance, to analyze and manage lake trout populations and to serve as a blue print for decisions to maintain the sport fishery.  It went through an extensive public scoping and citizen advisory process, where over 90 percent of respondents indicated a “go slow” approach was the proper method. Aggressive methods to quickly reduce lake trout populations were met with a resounding NO!

Through this process, it was determined that while, in the immediate “post Mysis shrimp introduction” period, lake trout numbers DID explode, and bull trout populations did plummet.  But as time went by, the data started to show that the situation began to correct itself.

In fact, by the mid-period reviews, the bull trout populations had stabilized (see FWP population estimates) and the lake trout populations began to decrease.  The “go slow” approach had indeed been the proper course of action and the results were showing that to be true. Yet the approach to management continued as if just the opposite was happening…

The Mack Days tournaments (the plans main tool to reduce lake trout) were expanded, lake trout limits in Flathead Lake went from 25 to 50, and then to the 100 fish limit we have today.  Major efforts to promote the stance that “bull trout were on the verge of extinction” continued, Montana Trout Unlimited became one of the most vocal groups supporting a more aggressive approach, presentations using carefully selected  “data” were offered and quotes like “bull trout are about to blink out” proliferated.

An FWP official that stood up to the tribes efforts to continue to decimate the sport fishery found himself  “retired”  soon after his statements were made public and eventually our local managers were told they couldn’t even discuss the issue, all info had to come and go through Helena.

A letter from a top FWP official, supporting a “gill netting pilot project” created a firestorm of discontent, yet was explained away as being taken out of context. Press releases were issued retracting that support and public meetings were held where anglers outraged at this project again reiterated an opposition to gill netting. The project was ‘withdrawn” and in the waning months, eventually the plan expired, without much fanfare.

All the while, and it continues today, the CSKT continued planning to take a substantially more aggressive approach to killing lake trout, under the guise of continuing  to “save” a native fish population that has and continues to recover quite successfully.  I D teams were developed, alternatives discussed, yet nothing has been publicly shared for almost two years.

Recently, after FWP suddenly announced they had withdrawn from further attempts to gain BPA mitigation funds, for very acceptable reasons, a top CSKT official was quoted as saying:  “in the absence of a new agreement, the terms of the old one remain in place”

This would be somewhat acceptable IF those “terms” were being followed… and had they been followed during the original period.  Unfortunately, since the mid-period review, the process that was to be followed when bull trout stabilized (or even increased) and lake trout stabilized (or even decreased) has been subverted from “re-evaluate goals and objectives” and “continue current management” to a plan of annihilating upwards of 96 percent of the catchable lake trout populations!  (The CSKT supported alternative)

To quote again from the expired 10 year plan “In general, there is little public support for commercial fishing for or agency netting of lake trout. However these strategies may be reviewed and implemented if native trout populations drop to dangerously low levels or if they are needed to achieve native trout goals after all other techniques are exhausted.”

It is obvious to me that, despite bull trout recovery and increasing populations, the CSKT continues to pursue the most aggressive lake trout removal tactics.  When will the people of Montana stand up and say enough is enough?  I say it starts here.   Please let your opinion be known to…BPA, FWP, Trout Unlimited and the CSKT. Also, let your local paper (where you are most likely reading this) know and then go take a kid fishing…you’ve earned it!

 

 

Here is a commentary that recently appeared in the Hungry Horse News, The BigFork Eagle and The Whitefish Pilot.  It was a response to several recent editorials by Trout Unlimited.

http://www.flatheadnewsgroup.com/hungryhorsenews/article_f201a2e6-83e4-11e1-a311-001a4bcf887a.html

May
11
0

Fetha Stix

I highly recommend Fetha Stix and am working closely with them to bring their rods to Montana!  Look for more on a new downrigger rod we are developing with them.