Fort Peck and Canyon Ferry Spawning Report 2017
April 26th, 2017
The 2017 trap netting and walleye egg collection effort has come to a close in the Big Dry Arm of Fort Peck Reservoir. For the most part, weather conditions remained steady and favorable since the last update. Water surface temperatures have been ranging from 53 to 51 degrees in some our shallower trap netting areas. These locations continue to be the most productive for capturing ripe female walleye. However, numbers of green female walleye are dwindling, while numbers of spent female walleye captured are on the rise. This would suggest that walleye spawning activity is winding down.
Due to the good number of ripe female walleye captured in trap nets and green female walleye that ripened in holding pens, we managed to hold several more good-sized egg collections since the last update. These egg-takes have allowed us to collect approximately 5 to almost 8 million eggs each time. That brings the grand total to just over 81 million eggs for the season. This surpassed the 60 million goal, but additional eggs were collected in the event of poor hatching success.
On behalf of the fisheries and hatchery staff at Fort Peck, I’d like to send a big THANK YOU to all the volunteers who contributed to a very successful season. As always, it was great to see lots of new and familiar faces, talk about the Fort Peck fishery, and see some truly amazing fish. Best of luck to everyone this summer wherever you decide to fish!
Tom Becker and Bill Nankind with an impressive female walleye.
Ron and AJ Hunziker with one of the last female walleye captured during the 2017 season.
Jay and Carson Fleming with a big birthday walleye for Carson!
April 20th, 2017
The weather has been interesting the past few days in the Big Dry Arm of Fort Peck Reservoir. Windy one day, rainy the next, and pretty darn nice as of lately (knock on wood!). We did experience a slight warming trend that increased water surface temperatures back up to 51 degrees in some of our shallower trap netting locations. As a result, we managed to collect a few more walleye from our trap nets.
The numbers of walleye captured continue to vary by location and water temperature. We have noticed a shift in the proportion of ripe and green female walleye captured. The last few days have resulted in more ripe female walleye captured compared to the higher numbers of green that we saw earlier during the spawning operation. In addition, we’ve started to capture a few more spent female walleye (released eggs) indicating some walleye spawning activity could be winding down.
We’ve managed to hold three more egg-takes since the last update due to the good numbers of ripe female walleye captured. These egg collection efforts should bring the total close 56 million eggs. We’ll continue efforts for a few more days so stay tuned for one last update.
Lane and Owen Thompson with big female walleye being transferred to the holding pens.
Don Schlegelmilch with dandy female walleye on nice day!
April 17th, 2017
It’s been a windy past few days in the Big Dry Arm of Fort Peck Reservoir. We were unable to check our nets on Friday due to the 40 mph gusts that swept through the area. In addition, the wind has caused a few of the trap nets to roll. This causes a twist in the lead line that runs to shore and intercepts fish as they cruise in the shallow water. As you could imagine, this has allowed some of the fish to bypass the trap nets resulting in a decrease in catch rates.
Water surface temperatures were hovering around 52 degrees this weekend, but dropped back down to 48 degrees as of today due to the wind and cooler temperatures mixing the water. There still seems to be an equal portion of ripe to green female walleye being captured throughout our trap netting locations. However, trap net catches of ripe female walleye have been better in the warmer, shallower areas indicating they are searching for more favorable temperatures for spawning.
We’ve managed to hold three more smaller egg-takes since the last update due to the slow and steady collection of ripe female walleye. These smaller egg-takes should bring the total to 44 million eggs so far. It looks like we could see a slight warming trend headed this direction so stay tuned for more updates on egg-take numbers.
Ryan Derr with an egg-laden female walleye.
Ryley and Brytta Berry transferring a green female walleye to the holding pens.
Madison Zabrocki with a big green female walleye from one of the trap nets.
Tyson Pisk with a big green female walleye from one of the trap nets.
Well, it was a bit breezy in the Big Dry Arm of Fort Peck Reservoir today. We managed to check nearly all of our trap nets but had to leave a few due to the gusty winds. Water surface temperatures have been averaging close to 50 degrees throughout our trap netting locations the last two days. These are very favorable temperatures for walleye spawning activity and it has been apparent in most of our trap netting catches.
Numbers of walleye collected in trap nets have remained steady and slightly increased over the last few days. We actually managed to bring in 44 green female and 48 ripe female walleye from today’s efforts. Based on the water temperatures and the proportion of green and ripe female walleye captured, it appears we could be nearing peak walleye spawning activity.
In addition to the female walleye being brought in from the trap nets, there have been a few ripening up in the holding pens. Due to these good catch rates of walleye, we held two more egg-takes since the last update. A little over 4 million eggs were collected on Tuesday and approximately 10 million more today. This should bring the total to approximately 36 million eggs. The forecast is calling for some gusty winds the next couple days so we’ll see what we can do.
Chase Sanderson with big female walleye!
Charles Durbin wrangling a large northern pike!
Ricci Olson with a great walleye on a breezy day!
April 10th, 2017
The weather has cooled in the Big Dry Arm of Fort Peck Reservoir due to a cold front that moved through the area. Water surface temperatures dropped from 52 to 48 degrees as of today in some of the shallower trap netting locations. It appears this has slowed walleye spawning activity a bit as our trap net catches were down from previous days. However, we’ve managed to capture a good number of ripe and green female walleye prior to the decrease in water temperatures.
Due to the steady number of ripe female walleye captured over the last several days, we’ve managed to hold three more egg-takes since the last update. Each collection day has averaged approximately 5 million eggs. That should bring our total to 21 million eggs thus far. The forecast is calling for a warming trend in the next few days so let’s hope this triggers another round of walleye spawning activity.
Ernest Uy rewarded with a big green female on cold day.
Sean Uy rewarded with a big green female on cold day.
Daryl Ridenour with a large male walleye.
April 7th, 2017
The walleye trap netting and egg collection efforts have commenced in the Big Dry Arm of Fort Peck Reservoir. It’s been a busy and productive week. We’ve managed to get our spawning barges, holding pens, and a good number of trap nets all set over the last few days. The first trap nets were actually checked on Wednesday and the results look promising so far.
Based on these first few days of collection, it appears we’re still a bit early. We’ve seen good numbers of male walleye and green female (not releasing eggs) walleye which is a typically pattern early on. Water surface temperatures earlier this week were around 46 degrees but have gradually warmed to around 52 degrees in some of the shallower trap netting areas as of today. With these warming temperatures, we’ve also managed to capture a few ripe (releasing eggs) female walleye.
Due to good number of ripe walleye collected over the last couple days, we managed to hold our first egg-take of the season today. A total of 24.5 quarts of walleye eggs were collected today which should give us a little over 6 million eggs. The weather looks still looks decent for tomorrow, but the forecast is calling for a cold front to move through the area Sunday. Hopefully this doesn’t throw too much of wrench into things.
Rich Hjort holding a green female walleye from a trap net.
Bill and Sandy Jensen getting ready to transfer a green female walleye to one of the holding pens.
Transporting a tank full of walleye to the spawning barge and holding pens.