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CANYON FERRY AND FORT PECK 2014

 

Canyon Ferry

April 24

Optimal surface water temperatures over the past week brought in a number of large female walleye during the 2014 spring spawning survey on Canyon Ferry Reservoir. Eight ripe or spawned out females, larger than 28-inches, have graced our trap nets since the last update and the number of walleye captured, tagged and released increased to more than 600 total . The largest walleye captured to date was a 31.7-inch, 15.0-pound ripe female and numerous other spawning aged females, greater than 20-inches, were also captured. However, due to lack of males and the number of spawned out females being captured, FWP crews will likely conclude the 2014 spawning survey later during the week of April 28th.

Two more northern pike were sampled since the last update, bringing the spring total up to five. The largest of the most recent pike captured was a 46.5-inch, 30.04-pound giant. Over 1,600 rainbow trout have now been released from traps, as well as hundreds of other fish.

If you have any questions or would like to volunteer, give me a call at 495-3263.

Volunteers Jason Rigsby with a 31.1-inch, 11.8-pound female walleye from the south end of Canyon Ferry Reservoir.



FWP personnel with a 46.5-inch, 30.04-pound northern pike captured during the 2014 spawning survey on the south end of Canyon Ferry Reservoir.




April 16th

The ice is officially gone and the annual spawning survey on Canyon Ferry Reservoir is under way. Two trap nets were launched, one near the north end of Pond #1 and the other at the south end of the Silos Recreation area, on April 10th and traps have only been checked three days. We’ve already handled close to 700 rainbow trout and 200 walleye despite cooler temperatures and lower than normal reservoir levels. A handful of smaller female walleyes (17 to 24 inches) have been surveyed, but the bulk of the catch, as per usual, has been ripe males. The weather forecast appears to be promising, so the spawn could really turn on over the next week or so.

The most notable captures this spring thus far have been the presence of two northern pike greater than 25-pounds. The largest of the two was a whopping 44.5-inches and 33.8-pounds with a 23.5-inch girth…a true specimen.

If you have any questions or are interested in volunteering for a day during the field season, give me a call at 495-3263.

Fisheries technician Chris Hurley with a 33.8-pound northern pike captured on the south end of Canyon Ferry Reservoir.



Here's a photo of a fine female walleye captured, tagged and released on the south end of Canyon Ferry Reservoir.



Adam Strainer - Region 4

April 22nd

Warm water temperatures have the annual spawing survey on Canyon Ferry Reservoir in full swing. Over 450 walleye have been captured, tagged and released to date, already nearly 100 more than in 2013, and some large females have started to show up. The largest walleye captured to date has been a 29.9-inch ripe female, but five additional 20-inch plus females were also sampled during the same timeframe. The weather forecast continues to be promising, at least short term, so look for walleye numbers to increase throughout the week of April 21st.

One more northern pike was sampled late last week, bringing the spring total up to three. Over 1,000 rainbow trout have been released from traps, as well as hundreds of other fish, during the annual spring survey. Come out and see for yourself if you’re interested!

If you have any questions or would like to volunteer, give me a call at 495-3263.

Volunteers John Palmer and Sean Buchanan pose with two large spawning aged walleye on the south end of Canyon Ferry Reservoir.



Volunteers assist FWP personnel with removing fish from large traps that are used to monitor spawning fish on the south end of Canyon Ferry Reservoir.



Adam Strainer - Region 4

Fort Peck

May 1st
The winds have calmed and we finally experienced some warmer weather in the Big Dry Arm of Fort Peck Reservoir. However, that lingering cold front left its mark throughout our trap netting area. Water surface temperatures actually dropped to 43 degrees yesterday in some of the shallower trap netting areas. As a result, we’ve observed fewer numbers of walleye while checking the trap nets and they’ve been either ripe or spent females. Very few green female walleye have been collected. That means numbers in holding pens have started to decrease and we are now holding 76 green females compared to the 100+ females last week. This is definitely a sign that things are on the downhill slide.

We’ve held two smaller egg-takes since the last update. These two egg collections have given us approximately 8 million more eggs and should bring the total to approximately 55 million for the year. With that being said, we’ve surpassed our goal of 50 million for the year. However, we will likely try to collect a few more eggs between now and sometime next week to give us a little buffer in the event we have poor eye-up and hatching success.

Fertilizing a batch of walleye eggs


Gordon Radke with a dandy walleye


April 28th
It’s been a cold, wet, and bumpy past few days in the Big Dry Arm of Fort Peck Reservoir. A cold front has moved into the area and doesn’t appear to be leaving anytime soon. Daytime high temperatures have dropped to the upper 40’s. This is quite the change compared to the mid 60’s we experienced at the end of last week. As a result, water temperatures have dropped and so have the number of walleye collected in our trap nets. Water surface temperatures are now back down to 48 degrees throughout most of our trap netting locations.

We’ve still managed to collect enough ripe female from the trap nets and holding pens for three more egg collections since the last update. These three egg-taking efforts have given us an additional 14 million eggs which brings the total to approximately 47 million. There are still 92 green female walleye in the holding pens waiting to ripen up, but it might be slow going with the cooler temperatures.

Ernest Uy with a state record river carpsucker


April 25th
Weather conditions continue to be favorable in the Big Dry Arm of Fort Peck Reservoir. Water surface temperatures have gradually increased to 52 degrees in some of the shallower trap netting areas. This means more walleye have been cruising the shorelines in an attempt to spawn and filling up the trap nets. In fact, one of the better traps contained 35 walleye and 13 of them were ripe females.

Because of the surge in fish, another large egg-take was held from 98 females. This yielded 10.9 million eggs and brings the total to 32.3 million eggs. We are also holding 131 green females in the pens. This is great news but we still need some warmer weather to ripen those fish up. However, a cold front is expected to move through the area with cooler temperatures and rain/snow mix.

Transporting a boat load of female walleye from the trap nets


April 23rd
The weather has remained stable over the last couple days in the Big Dry Arm area of Fort Peck Reservoir. Water surface temperatures are still around 50 degrees near some of our shallower trap netting areas but gradually cool down to 45 degrees when moving down the reservoir towards McGuire Creek. This warm weather has kept the walleye cruising the shorelines in an attempt to spawn. However, the winds have made things a bit challenging when checking our trap nets.

Tuesday we held our first walleye egg-take for the 2014 season. We managed to collect 14 million eggs from 97 female walleye. Today we were able to collect an additional 7.4 million eggs. This will give us a little over 21 million eggs total for the 2014 season. In addition, we have a 105 green females in the holding pens waiting to ripen up. This is a much better start compared to last season and the weather forecast looks promising for at least a couple more days.

Matt Baxter collecting eggs from a ripe female walleye


Marv Johnson with a green female walleye


April 21st

The weather has really warmed over the weekend in the upper Big Dry Arm of Fort Peck Reservoir. Water surface temperatures have increased from 43 degrees to 50 degrees in some of the shallower areas. As a result, we’ve observed an increase in numbers of walleye collected in our trap nets. Not only have the numbers improved, but we are beginning to see a few more green and ripe female walleye. This is definitely a sign that walleye spawning activity is beginning to pick up.

With today’s catch, we’ve managed to bring the total number of green females to 74 in the holding pens. We are also holding 56 ripe female walleye that will be spawned tomorrow. Hatchery personnel collected approximately 1.4 million northern pike eggs today that will be used to meet the stocking requests for a few select Montana waters this spring.

Mike McNamee with a large female northern pike


April 16th

The walleye egg-taking operation on Fort Peck Reservoir has commenced even though there is still some lingering ice cover. Most of the ice is near the dam and in the middle portions of the reservoir. However, the upper Big Dry Arm has opened up a bit and allowed us to place a few trap nets in some of the shallower, open areas. Similar to the last few years, lingering ice cover and cooler temperatures have delayed the start of the egg-taking operation.

Water temperatures are cool so walleye spawning activity is slow for the time being. The warmest water temperature obseved was 42 degrees. We are seeing some walleye, but a majority of them are males which is the typical pattern early on. We did manage to capture a few green (not ready to release eggs) female walleye and are holding them in hopes they will release their eggs once water temperatures start to warm. The forecast looks promising for the next several days so hopefully we will see an increase in walleye spawning activity.

Dale Spitzer with one of the first green female walleye of the season



Heath Headley