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drummer's stump

Lake Whitefish

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drummer's stump

The last 10 years or so I have been obsessed with whitefish through the ice, we only have a couple lakes in Maine that have them, and it just so happens my company is relocating the camp I work out of to one of these lakes. I plan to spend some time on the lake during the week after dinner  jigging. For those who fish for whitefish what are your go to jig bait combos?  Is there a seasonal shift in their habitat from early ice to late winter, or are they pretty static?

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Curt

I can't tell you anything about how to catch them but if you need any help eating them don't hesitate to ask.  To me smoked White fish is as good as it gets.

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Remo

Someplace here there is thread on them, @ Green Bay and MT.

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lee sykes

I have only caught one whitefish in my life and it was very strange how it happened.  When I was a teenager, we had a camp on Sebago and one night, I was casting off the dock with a 5/8 oz jitterbug for bass.  I got a strike and the fish jumped repeatedly as a smallmouth is likely to do and wrapped the line around the next door neighbor's dock tie and hung helplessly above the water.  It was a whitefish of about 14".  I had read that they were present in the lake but had never seen one.     Found this study on Maine Whitefish.  https://www.maine.gov/ifw/docs/fisheries-reports/2016/lakewhitefish_currentstatus.pdf

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charlo slim

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charlo slim

A fishing partner just sent me this pic of a lake whitefish, one of 8 nice ones he caught a day or so ago on nearby Flathead Lake (@110 ft! 😫).  This is a good news / bad news / bad news situation.  Good news in that they are apparently available beyond my normal July / Aug / early Sept window.  But bad news is that other outdoor options start to conflict by Sept anyway.  Also bad news in that detecting their dainty strikes is tricky enough at 40 - 60' where I almost always fish them during late summer --  110' has gotta be considerably more difficult I'd imagine.

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charlo slim
On 11/30/2018 at 5:00 AM, drummer's stump said:

 For those who fish for whitefish what are your go to jig bait combos?  Is there a seasonal shift in their habitat from early ice to late winter, or are they pretty static?

 

Pretty much standard operating procedure here on Flathead Lake is a compact jigging "spoon", with the "Rattlesnakie" or one of several local variants on duty 90+% of the time. Any color is OK, long as it is green or green/gold.. Weight is 1/4 to maybe 1.5 oz -- depending on depth fished: basically as light as possible while keeping it vertical and in touch with bottom.  Sometimes a #8 nymph (Tellico is my fave) on a short 4" dropper about 16" above the spoon is worthwhile.  Maggot or 2 on the nymph is SOP, same on the lure treble also if the fish are being persnickety.  A desperation strategy is to douse lure and nymph down with some shrimp oil type attractant -- not really sure whether that makes a difference or not. Synthetic braid line is essential for strike detection IMO, at least in the deeper- water zones.  I like 10# braid with 14# fluorocarbon for leader/ dropper.  Strike detection is tricky -- I always tell new folks to set the hook if they even imagine they have a bite! 

 

Now for the bad news -- none of the above may be of any use at all in other lakes and other forage conditions.  The Flathead Lake whitefish are usually dialed in on yellow perch fry along the thermocline where it intercepts the lake bed at 40 - 60' during the prime July-sept run. If they are working snails, tiny clams, or other benthic organisms, then presumably the whole game would change big time.  

 

Good luck.

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charlo slim
On 12/1/2018 at 9:28 PM, lee sykes said:

I have only caught one whitefish in my life and it was very strange how it happened.  When I was a teenager, we had a camp on Sebago and one night, I was casting off the dock with a 5/8 oz jitterbug for bass.  I got a strike and the fish jumped repeatedly as a smallmouth is likely to do and wrapped the line around the next door neighbor's dock tie and hung helplessly above the water.  It was a whitefish of about 14".  I had read that they were present in the lake but had never seen one.     Found this study on Maine Whitefish.  https://www.maine.gov/ifw/docs/fisheries-reports/2016/lakewhitefish_currentstatus.pdf

 

Your lone encounter with a lake whitefish is about as strange as one could imagine Lee.  Surface strike, even one let alone multiple jumps, etc.  Who'd of ever thunk it?  Interesting study -- thanks for posting the link. It is really shocking to encounter concerns about over-harvest on lake whitefish, with 3 fish daily limits and the like.  Kind of exact opposite of situation here.  Lake whitefish (and lake trout) were introduced to flathead lake back in the late 1800's, as a potential food source for railroad stopovers I've heard. Whitefish populations persisted, but never really thrived until some other trophic changes occurred, prompted by the (semi) accidental introduction of mysis shrimp in the 1970's.  Now the WF make up something like 70% of total lake biomass I'm told, and pose a real threat to native fish populations.  Daily limit here is 100 fish per person, up from 50 pp a few years back. Not that most folks want to deal with even 50 whitefish a day,, tasty though they may be, and not that finding and catching a good batch is necessarily a "slam dunk".  They actually can be frustrating as hell some times -- thus worthy of obsession. If any UJ'ers happen to be wandering around this part of the world during July through mid-September and want to risk the obsession, look me up.

 

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lee sykes
1 hour ago, charlo slim said:

 

Your lone encounter with a lake whitefish is about as strange as one could imagine Lee.  Surface strike, even one let alone multiple jumps, etc.  Who'd of ever thunk it?  Interesting study -- thanks for posting the link. It is really shocking to encounter concerns about over-harvest on lake whitefish, with 3 fish daily limits and the like.  Kind of exact opposite of situation here.  Lake whitefish (and lake trout) were introduced to flathead lake back in the late 1800's, as a potential food source for railroad stopovers I've heard. Whitefish populations persisted, but never really thrived until some other trophic changes occurred, prompted by the (semi) accidental introduction of mysis shrimp in the 1970's.  Now the WF make up something like 70% of total lake biomass I'm told, and pose a real threat to native fish populations.  Daily limit here is 100 fish per person, up from 50 pp a few years back. Not that most folks want to deal with even 50 whitefish a day,, tasty though they may be, and not that finding and catching a good batch is necessarily a "slam dunk".  They actually can be frustrating as hell some times -- thus worthy of obsession. If any UJ'ers happen to be wandering around this part of the world during July through mid-September and want to risk the obsession, look me up.

 

It was very strange.  The water saw only about three feet deep there and the bottom was sandy (man-made years before, I'm sure.) .  I could see the fish hanging there because there was a light on the camp and it was on.  I took off my shoes and waded in to retrieve my surprise.   It was definitely a fluke that the big treble hook snagged it in the mouth and held. Why it struck at all is anybody' guess.  I miss the mystery of what lived in that big lake when I was a kid.  

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