In my last column, I talked about how the lack of normal runoff was impacting several of our fisheries.
Nowhere has this been more obvious than Flathead Lake, especially on the north end of the lake, what is called the delta. This is the area directly surrounding the inlet of the Flathead River, and to an extent east to the Swan River. Where the Flathead comes in, it is a shallow mud flat that makes its first real drop into deeper water down to about 100 feet.
Conditions in this area are excellent for catching lake trout. Water clarity is fine, there are millions of bait fish present and the fish are feeding. Last Saturday was one of the best days of fishing on the delta in recent memory.
But there was a little more at play then just low runoff and clearer water: Two days of hard winds out of the south also made Saturday great.
Most of the time, anglers curse the wind, especially on Flathead and our other large lakes in Montana. But any walleye angler will tell you wind, bait and structure are three key factors in locating feeding walleyes. The latest issue of In-Fisherman has a great article about this; in fact it is a reprint of info that was published 40 years ago.
Wind and waves, and their effect on fishing, even days after a major wind event like last Friday’s, often impact shallow-water fisheries much more than deep-water fisheries, which is what we tend to think of Flathead as. But up on that area of the lake, where the deep water comes up fast onto the shallows of the delta, it has a significant impact. Think about the wind, the waves, and the structure you are fishing the next time you go chasing after large predator fish — and plan your attack accordingly.
This is the week that I have to prepare and submit my permit applications for the ice fishing tournament season. It’s kind of weird shifting back into ice fishing mode during the heat waves we have been having but it also has helped me stay cool! Our Perch Assault series will be entering its 11th season in 2016 and everyone who fishes these tournaments loves and appreciates our perch populations in Northwest Montana.
I hope that they all took the time to comment on the proposed fishing regulations that will begin in 2016 and run through 2019.
Part of these proposed regulation changes include putting some harvest limits on these tasty fish on some of our local waters. I am in the camp that agrees that, with a little management, some of our good perch lakes can become great perch lakes, if we just take fewer of these bigger fish.
Perch are one of those species that, when you get on a hot bite and you are putting fish in the bucket or cooler, it is real easy to take more home than you wanted to. Limits on a few of our lakes could go a long way toward helping all of us think about harvesting responsibly and not recklessly. There will be more opportunities to comment on the final proposed changes and I hope everyone is part of the process.
I’ll see you on the water!
Howe runs Howes Fishing/A Able Charters. Contact him at www.howesfishing.com or 257-5214 or by emailing Mike@aablefishing.com.