What do we fish for?
The lake trout, or Mackinaw, are the predominant species of fish in Flathead Lake. We troll for them using a combination of downriggers and long lines. Occasionally, wind permitting, we will set up and jig also. Although we cannot target them, there is always the possibility of a bull trout or Westslope cutthroat attacking one of our set-ups as well. Those are both protected species, and must be released, but we consider it a unique experience to be able to land one of those! In late summer, we have the opportunity to jig for the Lake Superior whitefish, which is a tasty fish, as well as a heckuva scrapper!
Do we need a license?
Yes, all anglers 12 years old and over must have a valid Montana fishing license. Licences are available online at https://fwp.mt.gov/buyandapply/fishinglicenses , or at local retailers. There is one very close to the boat. You DO NOT need a Flathead Indian Reservation license to fish with Flathead Lake Charters. We recommend waiting until the night before or the morning of the charter to purchase licenses online using your smartphone. This ensures you won’t spend money on a license that you are unable to use due to inclement weather. Included in that purchase will be a Montana conservation license, and an Aquatic Invasive Species (AIS) pass. Monies from the AIS fee go towards helping to keep our pristine Montana waters free of such critters as Zebra and Quaga mussels, Eurasian Millfoil, and other detrimental invaders.
What should we bring?
We provide nearly everything you need for your Flathead Lake fishing experience, including all rods and tackle, life vests, snack-chips, cookies, ice cold soda (or POP if you are from the Midwest! ) and bottled water, as well as many years of fishing experience. We suggest you bring sunscreen of the lotion type. The spray types make the boat deck very slippery, and contaminate bait and tackle with foreign odors. If you bring the spray type of sunscreen, we ask simply that you apply it before we load up. Sunglasses and a hat are always a good idea too. Watch the weather, and try to dress accordingly. In spring and fall, layers are best, as the temps can change very quickly and often. We do not provide rain gear, though you can take cover under the canopy or in the forward cabin. Any snacks of your own, (PLEASE NO SUNFLOWER SEEDS!) or a small cooler with adult beverages are also welcome, but please drink responsibly, and have a designated driver. For full day trips, we recommend bringing a simple lunch. Due to logistical issues, we are no longer able to provide lunches on full day trips.
How many people can we bring?
We have two Grady White boats, a 20 footer and a 22. The larger boat will accommodate four adult guests plus the guide, and the 20 footer will comfortably accept three. Combinations of children and adults are explained when you book online. For larger groups, you have the option of scheduling both boats, or if necessary we can enlist the help of another company to assist. Our charters are all private, so you are only fishing with members of your own party.
May we keep fish?
Of course! That’s why you go fishing! We believe in taking responsible advantage of the resources Mother Nature provides, we only ask that you be responsible too. Our fishery has been under attack for several years, by gill nets and large catch and kill tournaments. In an attempt to keep the population at a level that will still promote a productive fishery, we encourage catch and release, but have no problem fileting a few of the smaller, more edible fish for your BBQ or freezer! Please provide a small cooler and some ice to keep your filets fresh on the way back to camp. All fish between 30″ and 36″ must be released.
Are lake trout good to eat?
Lake trout can be quite delicious, so we want you to take a few fish to share around the campfire, or to grill or smoke when you get home, but there are a couple of things to keep in mind. Lake trout are very slow growing fish, and the larger ones can be quite old. As a fish ages, the meat quality suffers, and there are health warnings that go along with eating too much. Additionally, lake trout are a very thick and meaty fish, and it’s easy to underestimate the amount of meat on a filet. Usually, two average fish will feed 3-4 people. We do not freeze or ship fish. We are doing our best to protect this resource, and hope you will aid us in that endeavor! Trophy class fish, (anything over 36”) can be kept for mounting, but we like to promote the concept of replicas, which allows that old fish to return to the depths to fight another day, but can still provide a lifelong memory to hang on the wall!
Are you able to accommodate people with disabilities?
EVERYONE loves to fish, and we welcome everyone. Please let us know the individuals limitations, and we will make every effort to accommodate them. We have boarded many wheelchairs, and other devices, over the years, and will do everything we can to ensure a fun day on the water for everyone.
Do you have a bathroom on the boat?
We do have a small camping style porta-potty in the cabin for emergencies, but for reasons of sanitation, we try to keep its use to a minimum. (It seems some people, even ADULTS, have not yet learned good restroom etiquette, and we pay the price when we must clean up after them.) There is a restroom at the launch as well which we would encourage everyone to use before we leave the dock.. We are also usually within a reasonable distance of one of several state parks with restroom facilities.
Can we bring the kids?
Kids are VERY welcome. All children 12 and over must have a valid Montana fishing license, 12 and under must wear a life vest AT ALL TIMES!. We have all sizes available, or feel free to bring your own. Sunscreen (lotion please, not aerosol) is also a must for the kids. We love to share the joy of sportfishing with the youngsters, and they may even end up in our photo galleries on our website and Facebook! Any parent who may be averse to that, please let your guide know, and we will refrain from posting their photos.
What about dogs?
A fishing boat is not the best place for a dog, what with the dangers of large, sharp hooks and all. Sometimes things happen very quickly, and a dog in the wrong place at the wrong time can easily cause a trip and fall accident, resulting in injury to a guide, a guest, or the pup. But we love our own dogs, and understand that many people travel with their family pet. For that reason we will allow dogs under certain circumstances, but you are 100% responsible for them. (We would still encourage you to find a sitter if possible.) Dogs must remain calm and clear of “the action”, mostly the back of the boat, or be restrained. This is for your pets safety as well as our guides and guests. Please come prepared. It can get hot out there, so bring fresh water, a bowl, and the necessary items to clean up after them should that be necessary. This includes the launch area as well as the boat. Flathead Lake Charters and their guides can not be held responsible for any injury incurred or caused by your pet while aboard the boat. PLEASE do not leave your pets in your vehicle!
Can we smoke on the boat?
Tobacco and other such products are allowed, but please keep in mind that Flathead Lake is one of the cleanest lakes in the world, and we want to keep it that way. Please keep your butts out of our lake!
What if it rains?
Only two kinds of people try to predict Montana weather, that’s fools and new-comers. That being the case, we watch the weather forecasts very closely, and will do our best to notify you either by phone, text or email, if we think weather is going to affect your fishing trip. Wind and lightning are our biggest detriments. Rain we can usually live with, unless it’s a total deluge. In the event that we are unable to fish at your scheduled time, we will try to accommodate you when the weather clears. It is for this reason that we discourage purchasing licenses too far in advance of your scheduled trip. Best to wait until the night before, or even the morning of. It takes about 10 minutes or less to buy them online with your smartphone.
Where do we meet the boat?
PLEASE READ YOUR CONFIRMATION EMAILS! They contain important details such as pick-up locations and times. Early Spring it’s Yellow Bay State Park, https://fwp.mt.gov/stateparks/yellow-bay, and June through October, Woods Bay Public Fishing Access, https://myfwp.mt.gov/fishMT/fas/39754037. Your confirmation emails will contain Google maps to help you find us also. Entering the address from our website into your GPS will bring you to my house, and the only fish there are in the freezer! PLEASE read your confirmation email.
What else is there to do in the area?
The Flathead Valley provides a wealth of activities and attractions, both winter and summer. They include, but are certainly not limited to, fly-fishing, horseback riding, bicycling, hiking, museums, ATV, boat and jet-ski rentals, fine dining, live music, rodeo, a Spartan race, whitewater rafting and kayaking, golf, hot springs, the National Bison Range, and of course, the Crown of the Continent – Glacier National Park. We are also just a day trip away from several ghost towns and mining camps where you can get lost in the history of Western Montana and it’s storied mining past. You can pan for gold, discover hidden gems, or just peruse the structures and artifacts, to get a first hand feel for both the hardship and the triumph that the early Montanans experienced. Please visit our LINKS page to connect with some of the best entertainment and education the West has to offer.