Whitefish area

Discussion in 'Fly Fishing Forum' started by dcslick, Jul 23, 2013.

  1. Hello,
    My family is renting a place in Whitefish between the middle of August to the middle September. We plan on heading over there sometime during that month. Any suggestions on where to fish in the area? Any suggestions on what fly shops to visit? I have never been to the area so any info is much appreciated.

  2. I don't know the fly shops, but I had a lot of fun on the North Fork of the Flathead a few years back in mid-August. The rivers have a very different feel there than the ones further south in MT or in ID and WA. The westslope cutts that migrate up from Flathead have quite a distinct look, too.
  3. 2nd what Richard said. North Fork of the Flathead....you're literally casting looking at the Northern Rockies (Glacier National Park). Lots of access. Polebridge is a hoot...

    One of my favorite places to fish, quite frankly.

  4. Lakestream flyshop is located in downtown Whitefish. If I were walking and wading I would head to the NF. Grab something from the Polebridge mercantile bakery or a beer from the Northern Lights.

    Read the regs if you plan on fishing any of the feeder creeks to the NF, some are permanently closed to fishing.
  5. Middle fork and the Main Flathead are good too, maybe bigger fish in the main river. The fish are more transitory than most rivers. There are some good hike in lakes too, starting with Hidden at the top of Going to the sun road in the park. The Kootnei is fairly close and the Elk in BC is not to far for a day trip either. Both are better rivers than the Flathead. See if you can borrow a copy of John Holt's book about fishing western Montana and you will have lots of choices!
  6. +1

    Don't count out the actual whitefish itself, as they will be migrating out of the lake, and into the river to spawn at that time. And they are quite large!
  7. NF Flathead is pretty country; it's also bear country so plan accordingly and the NF road is a bit rough outside Columbia Falls (heading up to Polebridge today, as it happens). Mainstem Flathead has fish, but it's not a destination stream and is best fished from some sort of watercraft. As a general note, Montana FWP has started issuing Hoot Owl restrictions (no fishing from 2PM-Midnight) on a number of rivers in the state due to the extended hot/dry weather we've been having http://fwp.mt.gov/news/drought/waterClosure.html ; although waters in the Flathead valley haven't been affected yet, if we don't get any relief, expect more closures to come. As it stands now, fishing in the area is an early morning/evening game; mid-day has been a bit tough.

    As mentioned, Lakestream flyshop is probably your best bet for info; never done much business with Stumptown Anglers (I may have caught them on a bad day). Arends flyshop in Columbia Falls is another resource.

    Best breakfast in Whitefish - Loula's (Buffalo is THE breakfast institution in town but they serve dishwater for coffee and in MT, that should be a capital offense)

    Best burgers - Bulldog (head's up - you have been warned about the restrooms!)

    Best family dinner that won't cost you an arm-and-a-leg - Mckenzie River Pizza; yeah, it's a chain, but their food's pretty good.

    Best dinner that will cost you those body parts - Tupelo Grill; Ciao Mambo used to have great Italian food but it seems the past few years it's been in a bit of a slump.

    Even if the fishing's off, it's a fun place to visit and you and the family will have a blast. Make sure you take some time to visit Glacier

    Duane J likes this.
  8. Oh yeah, I second Tupelo!!! Great place!

  9. Off the beaten path and a less touristy destination is the S. Fork of Flathead above Hungry Horse Res. Bring good tires and a spare the east side road usually is in better shape than the west. The S. Fork and Spotted Bear river is good cutty fishing all hours. If you're an ambitious angler and like to hike n fish, the bob is at the end of road west side. The trailhead might be busy starting in Sept all the outfitters will be setting up camp in the backcountry.

    Closer to town for a change of pace if you like Northerns and Bass, Church and Fennon slough is worth a few casts in a boat.
  10. If you go up the west side of HH to the South fork you may want to check out Handkerchief Lake...At one time the home to the state grayling record. I caught an 18 incher there once as well as some nice cuts. You will need a personal floatation device for that water......On the other hand if you are driving all the way up to the South Fork, you may as well head up to the Elk, not much further, much better road, better fishing for the same species of fish. Or the Kootnei if you prefer rainbows!
    Bill Aubrey and triploidjunkie like this.
  11. We went to handkerchief lake last summer. Pretty little lake, but I'll second needing a boat of some kind. I managed a few nice cutts from shore and the creek mouth. But I was there for grayling, and they were all jumping out in the middle. Tons of griz sign around that lake.
  12. Grew up in the Flathead Valley. Can't say how awesome it is! I grew up with Lakestream's longtime owner and they were great. Ask them and they'll point you well. Too bad I didn't fly fish then.

    N. Fork of the Flathead from W Glacier to Polebridge. There's some great fishing on the lakes in the park too, if you want to hike it in. I grew up trolling on Bitterroot Lake and love that western part with 5-8 lakes within an hour drive out west on US2. Also, though no one else knows it, I loved fishing for little trout 6-10" on Ashley Creek out that way. I've also heard the fishing in the Bob Marshall can be good (once again a hike).

    You can't go wrong even if you get skunked. Beautiful place.
  13. Wow! So much great info. Thanks so much, I really appreciate all the help!

  14. I second that! I am heading out to the Whitefish area over Labor Day and was going to post the same question. Thanks for all the tips!
  15. Does anyone have any experience angling for bull trout on this area?
  16. Check the regs. I believe some streams closed for bull trout after July 31st.
  17. For Bulls, i would check out the elk and Wigwam in BC....They had severe flooding this year but should be good to go now.
  18. I got back from Whitefish just a couple of days ago and had a great first time fishing there. A couple of notes on where pbunbury and I fished, what worked and what didn't:
    • We fished all three forks of the Flathead (North, Middle and South). We had the best luck on the North and Middle Forks. We started on the South on the first day, and probably would have had better luck if we returned later in the week. Our fishing improved over the weekend as we learned the water better and what the fish liked to eat. We caught mostly westslope cutthroats with a rainbow and whitefish sprinkled in the mix.
    • The guys at Lakestream in downtown Whitefish were super helpful and more than happy to tell us a few tricks and suggest flies. We also had a great time getting to know Dave at Stumptown Anglers which is just outside of town. He took us out one afternoon and showed us some absolutely magic water on the North Fork.
    • The water there is gin clear—this was completely new to me. It was super exciting to look down and see dozens of trout just stacked up. It also became mildly frustrating when I did not have any strikes (or even looks) on the first day. Even when I had the right fly on, if I landed it in relatively still water, the fish would swim up, take a look and refuse. I've never been able to see this kind of action before, and it really helped me learn how trout think and eat. Once I learned what the fish were biting on, the key was to land the fly upstream of the fish in moving water along a seam. As the fly passed in the moving water, the cutthroat couldn't help themselves. We also had good luck along drop offs.
    • The most productive fly for me was hands down a size 12 or 14 Purple Haze (a purple parachute adams with a white parachute). This fly was most effective from mid day through the evening. The Dave's Haze variation of this fly (orange parachute) also worked well. We also had good luck with red and black ants, size 8-10. Parker hooked up a few with a size 6 orange and yellow salmon fly. I even managed to haul in a larger cutty while stripping in a Washington State Special yellow and red Pat's stonefly size 10. A size 8 tan muddler minnow also saw some success. We had heard that hoppers with purple bottoms marked up with spots were working. We tried a few of these, but never had much luck.
    • Since we had the girlfriends in tow on this trip, Parker and I devised a white water rafting day for the whole group (seven of us total). The folks at Glacier Guides in West Glacier let us rent a raft and self guide for the day (about $240 all told). We floated much of the Middle Fork. While the ladies sunned themselves, the three guys in the boat were able to get lines wet. This turned out to be a great idea... We found a lot of great holes to fish and caught a few while we were floating... just make sure to have all the rods out of the middle of the boat or broken down when running rapids. Unfortunately the other fella on the trip will be making use of his rod's warranty policy.
    While we didn't catch any pigs, I would still characterize this as a very successful first time out in this area. I saw many giant lurkers deep in a few pools on the Middle Fork. I'll be back soon with a full sink tip and some streamers for those beasts. When we weren't fishing, we enjoyed a couple days in Glacier National Park spotting big horn sheep, mountain goats and bears. Whitefish is also a fun town and really comes alive at night. If anyone has any questions... just ask. :cool:

    North Fork magic.

    Rainbow on the North Fork.

    Cuttie on the North Fork.



    Mid day fun on the Middle Fork.

    Little fella on purple haze on the North Fork.

    Middle Fork.

  19. nice report. been to that area several times but only to golf. I will have to try fishing there too

    Sent from my Nexus 7 using Tapatalk 4
  20. Nice pics; glad you and your friends had a good time.


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