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Flathead Lake – Ready for the Hot Summer Bite?

The Fish are Biting!

Each season Flathead Lake fisherman wait with anticipation for that June event that marks the beginning of the hot summer bite. When the water warms to the upper fifties, and the run-off begins to slow, mud settles out and the apex predators move in to feed on smolts of all species.

Last week, even earlier this week, the confluence of the Swan and Flathead Rivers pushed a mud-line down into the lake and the fish were non-existent anywhere around the delta. Results from a six-boat charter out of Flathead Lodge indicated that not many fish were landed. I wasn’t invited to that party, but the general consensus was that the moment had not yet arrived.

So it was with some trepidation that I took a couple of clients over to the delta today. Surprise! The water had cleared and with surface temps breaking into the upper fifties, an abundance of bait stacked top to bottom, it looked like it might be a good day. And so it was.

Fish are feeding shallow, no matter the depth. Working downriggers stacked from 55ft to 100ft will yield fish, but the bite is not yet hot at those depths. What works is getting the lure away from the boat. I use lead-core rigs with 6-10 colors out at 1.7mph. This presents the lure thirty to fifty feed down, but fifty to a hundred yards away from the boat. A pair of lead-core rigs caught as many fish as four downriggers…and as in past years, the boat-shy big fish preferred the distant lures.  Remember…shallow. We witnessed a slot or larger Mack roll on the surface about ten yards from the boat as we passed by.

Lime green, white and silver flies behind chrome flashers seemed to be the trick today. I did note that the Spin Doctor was hot again this year. Got to get me more of those.

The results of our Flathead Lake fishing trip

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