All rights reserved. A raft floats past a towering cutbank while floating the upper North Fork of the Flathead River in late July. Flathead River Fly Fishing Hatches. Flatheads prefer to live in large bodies of water. They range from Canada down to Mexico. Yellow bullhead catfish can thrive in unpleasant waters. Westslope Cutthroat Trout are native to the waters of the Flathead River. Mike had his fishing pole, thinking he could fish while we floated down the river. The fisheries in the Bob Marshall are just as pristine and prolific as they were in the days of the Lewis and Clark expedition and provide an unequaled opportunity to target the native west slope cutthroat trout and the bull trout. Enjoy dry fly fishing for native westslope cutthroat trout while floating down this glacial influenced gin clear western freestone. How they got into the “Skuke” in such large numbers is not completely certain, but there has been a healthy population of reproducing fish there since the mid-90s. Life on the Flathead River is good. Knowing what catfish like to eat is integral to catching them. Bass Fishing the Flathead River: Captain’s Column (7.31.14) By angelamontana . A flathead is one of a number of small to medium fish species with notably flat heads, distributed in membership across various genera of the family Platycephalidae.Many species are found in the Indo-Pacific, especially most parts of Australia where they are popular sport and table fish. The wilderness mountain settings, clear waters, campfires, wilderness lakes and streams, and superb fishing will wash away worldly cares. As the name suggests, yellow bullhead catfish are often yellow. Trout fishing is catch-and-release and pike must be over 24 inches to keep. Try using larger minnows, bream, and even smaller-sized catfish. The South Fork is formed from the junction of Danaher Creek and Young’s Creek and runs for 45 miles due north, fed by dozens of small tributaries, where it exits the wilderness near Spotted Bear Ranger Station. Though some channel cats prefer murky water, you’ll often find channel catfish in clear water. Water clarity has improved dramatically; all three forks are shaping up very nicely, with as much as 10 feet of clarity. Worthwhile to see! They also thrive in fast-moving clean waters, though. … Families. Summer is considered to be the prime fishing time in the Flathead. It isn’t always a great place to find fishing. The Flathead River flows through the broad and beautiful Flathead Valley near Glacier National Park, Whitefish, MT, and Bigfork, MT. Home of the native Westslope Cutthroat trout, “Montana’s State Fish” the South Fork of the Flathead River is born in the nation’s most beautiful wilderness, the Bob Marshall. If you are a patient and dogged type who enjoys a challenge, a quest for monster flatheads may be ideally suited to your disposition. That helps maintain a balance of fish species. It’s not uncommon to find them stocked in ponds in which you have to pay to fish. Low oxygen and stagnant pools of water do not pose a problem for them. Anglers introduced them to Virginia in the 1970s. Flathead Catfish for the Plate Fishing for eating-sized flatheads is an easy and fun way to supply an excellent fish fry. Their natural diet consists of small fish and invertebrates. Some claim to have seen a blue catfish that weighed 300 pounds or more. Your target species will be cutthroat trout and rainbow trout. The river here is wide and frequently quite deep and fly fishing is best done from a drift boat. You can catch them on a wide variety of baits from dip baits to even unusual ones like hot dogs. by Ian Fortey We do throw a dropper off the back from time to time but we are primarily searching likely trout holding water with attractor dry flies. The South Fork of the Flathead River is one of the few places in the Lower 48 where it is legal to target bull trout. The Flathead River System offers hundreds of miles of pristine waterways, while Flathead Lake is a scenic and recreational mecca. Channel catfish is also sold commercially. The rest is a grey or slate blue color, hence the name. You can catch them in Texas and most of the southern states. Like most catfish, it has barbel whiskers on its face. Length is often around 24 inches. You can find channel cats in the southern parts of Canada. For your own well-being, it’s best not to eat yellow catfish caught in unclean water. The Flathead River is a beautiful free-stone river that drains Glacier National Park and the Bob Marshall Wilderness. It’s best to fish from clean waters if you plan to eat them. Flathead WPA is located on both sides of Flathead River riparian habitat just as the river enters Flathead Lake. Unlike some species, a squared-off and flat tale is characteristic of the breed. The Midwest is also home to a large population. ... into the water and the river has gouged deeply into the bank, forming undercuts. Seasons: The Middle Fork can fish well in April and early May when spawning runs of cutthroat enter the river from Flathead Lake. Fishing smallmouth can be done a … The plan seeks to increase and protect native bull trout and westslope cutthroat trout to at least Some catfish are best caught at night. Fishing on the river is fair at best. Your email address will not be published. The flesh is firm and white and slightly sweet. The sides of the fish are usually the palest shade. We headed towards Hungry Horse, renting a cute tiny home near the Flathead River. It was caught in Elk City Reservoir, Kansas. South Fork Flathead River Fly Fishing. These include Mudcat, Mud Pout, and Horn Pout. In 1976, the 219 miles of the Flathead River was designated as Wild and Scenic. You can eat the yellow bullhead catfish and many people enjoy the flavor. You will see public or private land. Blue catfish are very long fish. Headwater catfish anal fins have 23 to 26 rays. They have silver bellies and olive coloration along the sides. The deepest part of the lake is 370 feet while the average depth is 164.7 feet. I liked also the Flathead River. It is the time of the year that the smallmouth bass fishing really turns on. There are also some rainbow trout, lake trout, and whitefish in the rivers. Channel catfish are the most abundant species of catfish in North America. That catfish was caught in John Kerr Reservoir in North Carolina. South Fork Flathead River Fly Fishing is the best you will find anywhere – period. Fly selections: This is easy. Some are more difficult to catch at certain times of the year. It is gorgeous! Inland, you’ll find them stocked in places like Nevada, Illinois and, California. Because of the breadth, depth, and speed of the Flathead River, wading can be often dangerous, so it much more effective, and safe, to fishing from a drift boat than from shore. The anal fin may have as many as 27. • Flathead River Drainage non-native species:Yellowstone cutthroat trout (Fish, Hidden, and Grace lakes only), lake trout, lake whitefish, kokanee, rainbow trout, and brook trout. Mar-May. There is not a big interest in fishing for black bullhead catfish. There are also some rainbow trout, lake trout, and whitefish in the rivers. Channel cats are often found in streams and rivers, but also in ponds. They can adapt well to new habitats. The flathead catfish is Minnesota's largest native catfish. Arguably, the most desirable American catfish is the blue. Under the bridge, there are a lot of fish. Anything from insects to mussels to fish eggs will appeal to them. The Flathead region is home to the strongest population of Westslope Cutthroat trout in the state of Montana. Millions of anglers go out in search of these fish every single year. The geographic range includes the Mississippi River and the Great Lakes. Flathead River. As the name suggests, they have flat heads. They have rounded anal fins with 19 to 23 spines. They are one of the few types of catfish that are not considered invasive in most places. The rain event never materialized and the river dropped and cleared for over a week. There are over 25 fish species found in the Flathead River-Lake ecosystem, 10 species are native and 15 have been introduced. Look up the specific water you will be fishing to see if it is listed as an exception to the Standard Regulations. This is especially true in the upper portion of the river, where the largest populations of rainbow trout are to be found. The geographic range includes the Mississippi River and the Great Lakes. Fishing. Best Spots For Fly Fishing Flathead River. Channel catfish may be the most popular species for eating. Updated on June 22, 2020. Flathead catfish are not native to New Jersey; nor are they native to Eastern Pennsylvania and the Schuylkill River, where it is widely believed that they came from. White catfish are diverse feeders. Draining a size-able portion of NW Montana, including parts of Glacier National Park and the Bob Marshall Wilderness Complex, the waters of the Flathead River flow swiftly through some of the most beautiful scenery Montana has to offer. Recent Research: Read about the recent research being conducted on flathead catfish in the wabash river. The bull trout is a threatened species and can reach 40 inches long. Montana Flyfishing Experience guides are true professionals and love to get their anglers into fish. There are decent sized populations of other fish around North America as well, though. Trout are starting to move out of the winter water with all this bug activity. They are one of the rarest types of catfish. Couples. They do well in deep water. The Flathead River System offers hundreds of miles of pristine waterways, while Flathead Lake is a scenic and recreational mecca. Channel catfish are smaller species of catfish than blue catfish or flathead catfish. Fly fishing the Flathead River system provides a healthy population of native Westslope Cutthroat Trout, Bull Trout, Rainbows and Mountain Whitefish. Bass Fishing the Flathead River: Captain’s Column (7.31.14) By angelamontana . White catfish are also called white bullheads. FLATHEAD LAKE FISHING GUIDE The Confederated Salish and Kootenai Tribes (CSKT) and Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks (MFWP) cooperatively manage Flathead Lake under the Flathead Lake and River Fisheries Co-management Plan. Anytime you see someone posing with a giant trophy cat, this is likely what they have. When you fish will also be a factor. They also live in the Mississippi Basin. They are rarely fished for sport, but it does happen sometimes. The Flathead River is one of the last strong holds for pure strain wild westslope cutthroat and bull trout. Local inquiry of river conditions or hazards is recommended. They can also be a dark black shade. Average Length: 15-45 inches They are an important part of Native American tradition in that area. They rarely reach more than 20 inches in length. Westslope cutthroat trout are indigenous to the river. Dry Fly Fishing Paradise Live baits work best with headwater catfish. In the wild, they feed on insects, crustaceans, and small fish. Your email address will not be published. Like other types of catfish, they have four pairs of barbels around their mouths. We guide our fly fishing float trips on the Flathead River above Flathead Lake. They are particularly abundant in the central part of the country. The native fist is the Westslope cutthroat trout, and they are completely unique to the Flathead River. … When they can be obtained alive (often from a commercial fisherman or caught on hook and line), carp of 6 to 12 inches long make great baits for drift-pile flatheads. The South Fork of the Flathead River is home to native Westslope cutthroat trout and bull trout. That said, they’re still not as popular as most other catfish. You can easily catch them at night by fishing near the bottom. You can find them as far north as the Great Lakes in Canada. This coloration is absent in large adults. High water generally occurs mid-May through late June. Flathead catfish are usually yellow to brown. Flathead catfish respond best to live bait. As the water in the Flathead River is fed predominantly by snowmelt and mountain lakes, the water is usually quite cold even well into the summer keeping our wild cutthroat trout hungry for dry flies through-out the warmest times of late summer . Middle Fork Flathead River, Montana fishing report, rainbow trout fly fishing forecast, fishing season updates, fly shop and fishing guides, and fly-fishing weather. ... the type of ownership is shown while you hover or tap on the map. Fish are placed in totes before being brought to a processing plant at Blue Bay on the east side of Flathead Lake. They live along the Atlantic seaboard. Small dark stoneflies as well as the occasional mayfly and plenty of midges can be found throughout the forks and the mainstream of the Flathead River. Channel cats are hearty eaters. Hiding in the deep water next to banks, in the many riffles and runs or along waist deep boulder gardens the fish of the Flathead River love to eat dry flies. For instance, mudcat is also a name for flathead catfish. You can catch them in Texas and most of the southern states. Their range is limited in the United States. As a result, this water is heavily protected and many of the areas are great to fish. Since they tend to be accidental catches, most anglers throw them back. White catfish is an edible fish. Brown bullhead are usually under two feet in length. Read the Standard Regulations that apply to all waters in that District. The taste is actually quite pleasant but you may need to trim some yellow fatty meat. Also called Ictalurus nebulosus, the brown bullhead has several common names. The rainbow trout population is self-sustaining now and is considered wild. Their behavior can get aggressive towards other fish. Flathead River has two very excellent conditions aside from the lower pressure; fly fishing in Kalispell on the Flathead River does not require as much skill or specific flies like other areas of the state. However, the water can flow at impressive speeds so make sure you pick your areas carefully. The best way to fish the main stem is to take an outside-in approach. A diversity of fish and wildlife complement the land and water resources, and contribute to both the natural and cultural values of the Flathead Basin environment. Friends. Hudson Bay, the Great Lakes, and the St. Lawrence River are all home to brown bullheads. I had received reports a week earlier that the smallies were biting, and I wanted to get in some of the action. There are several types of bullhead catfish aside from whites. While you may not see as many 20’’ Rainbow Trout as in other rivers in the state, the Flathead River does offer good size Rainbow and Cutthroat Trout. The most noticeable difference is their forked tails. The river is part of the Columbia River drainage basin, as the Clark Fork is a tributary of the Pend Oreille River, a Columbia River tributary. Headwater catfish live in the Southwestern US and parts of Mexico. Don’t go out expecting a monster catfish, though. ... Flint River fishing guides will be the help that you need. Bugs are popping, more fish have moved into the river system, and the trout are on the feed. The river starts in Canada and flows along the west edge of Glacier National Park. The Big Three include blue catfish, flathead catfish, and channel catfish. Instead, their tail is square and flat with rounded edges. Lake trout up to five pounds eat lots of Mysis shrimp and can be delicious fried, baked, barbecued, or smoked. Their underside is usually a creamy, pale yellow. In Fishing. However, one guy showed us where to fish. You can also find them in brackish waters. The main stem of the flathead river is also fishing well. Those fish species include Black Bullhead, Brook Trout, Brown Trout, Bull Trout, Kokanee, Lake Trout, Lake Whitefish, Largemouth Bass, Largescale Sucker, Longnose Dace, Longnose Sucker, Mottled Sculpin, Mountain Whitefish, Northern Pike, Northern Pike Minnow, Peamouth, Pumpkinseed, Pygmy Whitefish, Rainbow Trout, Redside Shiner, Slimy Sculpin, Smallmouth Bass, Westslope Cutthroat Trout, Westslope … Fish size is generally 8-16″ but we normally get opportunities at larger fish and an occasional fish approaching the 20″ mark on our guide trips. It is the time of the year that the smallmouth bass fishing really turns on. Opportunities to match the hatch and cast to rising cutthroat trout are common the first half of summer and again in the fall. Most of the fishing is float fishing. We do get slightly muted versions of all the western freestone hatches. Located in the middle of Blasdel WPA is a small Flathead River riparian oxbow remnant with giant cottonwood trees and deciduous shrub understory. The cutthroat move around a lot and you’ll find them in pods. Blue catfish are the largest species of catfish in America. Being the opportunistic feeders they are, getting them to rise to a dry fly is no problem. The Flathead River is one of the few fisheries for this type of fish. Worms and chicken livers are especially successful with channel cats. Your average blue is maybe 40 pounds. Basically, the tribes allow fishing year-round on the Flathead River. A respectable weight would be around 40 pounds. In the past week we have seen steady improvements to the water quality and level. In fact, they are invasive in parts of Virginia. Their normal diet consists of anything from crabs to clams to vegetation. The best stretch to fish is Teakettle to Presentine. The South Fork of the Flathead, located in the heart of the Bob Marshall Wilderness, is a horsepack in/float out trip of 5-7 days, putting you over feisty Cutthroats to 22″ and “Bull Trout” to 15 pounds. Flathead cats can reach up to four feet in length. Time of year. Given the small size, it is best to throw them back in most cases. Blue cats, channel cats and even bullheads are excellent table fish as well, but many hardcore catfish fans, myself included, believe a young flathead has a delectable flavor … Channel catfish have blue to greenish-grey skin with dark spots. The Middle Fork of the Flathead originates in the Great Bear Wilderness and creates the southern border of Glacier National Park. The Flathead River holds a decent population of medium sized rainbow and cutthroat trout. The Flathead River is best fished from a drift boat with a qualified professional guide. Variations as our main patterns of choice towards the sides of Flathead lake Ohio rivers parts! 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