Whitefish Lake is located in the resort community of Whitefish, and is one of the most popular lakes in Montana. The lake is large, measuring about a mile wide and seven miles long and is 3300 acres in size.
The lake itself is ringed by large, exotic homes and condominiums. Tall, forested mountains tower over the lake.
Most use on Whitefish Lake consists of pleasure boating, sailing and waterskiing. However, Whitefish Lake has populations of lake trout that rival that of nearby Flathead Lake, with fish often exceeding twenty pounds. The lake also has sizable numbers of large mountain whitefish. Other fish species include bull trout, cutthroat trout, brown trout, rainbow trout, yellow perch and northern pike.
Like lake trout elsewhere, they are best fished while trolling the deeper sections of the lake using spin fishing gear, although some streamers on sinking fly lines can occasionally pull in some fish. Lake trout can also occasionally be caught near the various inlets to the lake, which are located on the northern end of the lake.
Whitefish Lake is very scenic, lying at the base of Big Mountain. The Whitefish Mountain Resort looms over the lake. Not surprisingly, use of the lake is very heavy during the summer—especially on the weekends. To get away from the crowds, one will need to head down to the north end of the lake, which receives somewhat less use due to its distance away from the public boat launch.
Access to Whitefish Lake is good, with a public boat ramp located at the City Beach near downtown Whitefish. Additionally, the shore fisherman can access much of the western side of Whitefish Lake by risking the wrath of the railroad and walking down the tracks—these tracks follow the west side of the lake for its entire distance. The west side of the lake is also the least developed, with only a handful of homes being located along the lakeshore.
For pleasure boating, you’ll see every sort of inflatable boat near the boat ramp. For fishing or general exploration of the boat, a more dedicated inflatable flatwater kayak or motorized inflatable raft works well if you lack a normal hardshell powerboat.
Whitefish Lake is also the source of the Whitefish River. Adventurous anglers can float down the Whitefish River to the various access points in the Flathead Valley—or all the way down to the confluence with the Flathead River (just be prepared to portage around downfall).