Wow, where to begin this week? Let’s start with the temperatures, of which I am already growing weary! Feeling “wilted” is a term I have used lately, and I now have a three-hour sunscreen reminder on my cell.
Last week saw me fishing on Flathead Lake as well as Middle Thompson Lake west of Kalispell and on the Clark Fork River near Noxon. Fishing has been great just about everywhere in the valley, with a few exceptions, but that’s fishing, always.
First I should clarify a remark I made in my last column about the smallmouth bass’ taste for trout. That struck a nerve there, I guess, with those on each “side” of things (which is part of the problem, too many sides). My point was this: Fish eat other fish and now we have another top-end predator spreading across Northwest Montana. Efforts to eradicate one predator fish seem to almost always result in another top-end predator taking its place.
This brings me to why I went fishing in the Thompson Falls area last week.
There has been as much controversy about walleyes in the Lower Clark Fork as any other non-native, but there are so many species in the vast system, the walleye is only a small part of it. From what we experienced Wednesday as well as Sunday, this fishery could be the Fort Peck of Western Montana. I’m not sure if it has the potential for the size, but certainly the diversity is there.
Fishing the area around Noxon, we found some incredible numbers of smallmouth bass, yellow perch, sunfish and pike minnow. Want a kid-friendly area of the river? Try the Marten Creek area for more fish than you will probably bring bait for. Soft plastics and other artificial “baits” are a good idea.
Moving up river to the area between Finley Flats and the golf course, we found all the previous species, plus northern pike and yes, walleyes. We trolled crank baits in 15 feet of water and then finished the day throwing jigs. Some of our best smallmouth came around this section, and our walleyes averaged about 16 inches. You won’t find a better-tasting fish than a walleye that size.
There is a lot to this fishery and I highly recommend checking in with John at the Lakeside Resort and Motel in Trout Creek for current information.
I spent Saturday on Middle and Lower Thompson lakes and found that both the pike and bass were present but not feeding. Again, that is the beauty of a multi-species, diverse fishery. We just switched over to kokanee gear and got into those nice Middle Thompson kokes. Fishing the ACM road side of the lake opposite Logan State Park produced steady and sometimes fast catching of 15- to 17-inch fish. Orange and silver colors seem to be preferred, so run a Mack’s Lure wedding- ring spinner behind a Shasta Tackle Sling Blade dodger at about 1.5 mph and down 35 to 40 feet and hang on!
Lastly, the lake trout fishing on Flathead Lake is about as hot as our weather. These fish are gorging on the young-of-the-year whitefish being flushed out of the river. Downriggers are not necessary. Trolling just about any large, stick-type crank bait that can dive 15 to 20 feet will get you to the fish, although the colors and speed can vary day to day.
If you would like to get on these or other area lakes and experience some of the finest waters in our area, give us a call and we will get you dialed in, too. I’ll bring the sunscreen.
Howe runs Howes Fishing/A Able Charters. Contact him at www.howesfishing.com or 257-5214 or by emailing Mike@aablefishing.com.