DECEMBER 10TH FISH & GAME COMMISSION MEETING
SWAN LAKE WALLEYE CATCH AND KILL RULE
The commission approved “a mandatory kill rule for all walleye caught in Swan Lake” in the Kalispell valley that is effective immediately. Anglers must kill all walleye caught, call the Kalispell FWP office (406-752-5501) within 24 hours to report their catch, and turn the fish in to FWP within 10 days. Mandatory turn in of fish prevents harvest for consumption and provides information relevant to biological and criminal investigations. Failure to do so could result in fines of up to $1,000 and their hunting, fishing and trapping privileges revoked. Commission Chairman Dan Vermillion said he hopes the mandatory kill order will serve as a disincentive to anglers aiming to mount a robust walleye fishery in the Swan valley. He also said that this rule is not solely targeted at walleye but will apply to all illegal introductions of any fish species. There has been a lot of media coverage recently about sportsman’s organizations allocating funds for persons convicted of bucket biology. Walleyes Unlimited of Montana was the first organization to do so in the 1980’s and has always been against illegal fish introductions.
FWP has a 20 year no-fee permit with the Bureau of Land Management to maintain the current 40 acre fishing access site on the reservoir that expired in May. When FWP approached BLM to renew the lease, BLM offered the option of acquiring the current 40 acres and also another 40 acre parcel that borders the current FAS for a filing fee of $100 for the entire 80 acres. The commission endorsed FWP’s request to perform due diligence in order to acquire the 80 acres of property from BLM. A 30 day public comment period will follow an environmental assessment by FWP.
Ice Fishing Approved Contest
Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks approved a number of ice fishing contests for 2015-2016.
The following ice fishing derbies are approved for the 2014-15 winter season:
Northwestern Montana, Region 1
Dec. 12, 2015 Perch Assault - Smith Lake
Dec. 13, Ice Duels Montana - Smith Lake
Dec. 20, Perch Masters - Lower Stillwater Lake
Dec. 26, Sunriser Lions Smith Lake Family Fishing Derby - Smith Lake
Jan. 23-24, Bull Lake Ice Fishing Derby - Bull Lake
Jan. 30-31, Fisher River Valley Winter Fishing Derby - Thompson Lake, et al
Feb. 1-28, Perch Pounder, 13th Annual - All Region 1 Waterbodies
Feb. 6, Snappy’s Lake Mary Family Derby, 16th Annual – Lake Mary Ronan
Feb. 13, Ryan Wagner Memorial Ice Fishing Derby - Murphy Lake
Feb. 13-14, McGregor Lake Annual Fishing Derby - McGregor Lake
Feb. 20, Perch Assault - Middle Thompson Lake
Feb. 21, Ice Duels Montana - Echo Lake
Feb. 27, Canyon Kids Christmas Fund Derby - Lion Lake
March 5, Perch Assault - Lake Mary Ronan
March 12-13, Bitterroot Bash, 5th Annual - Bitterroot Lake
South-central Montana, Region 3
Jan. 17, Hebgen Lake NAIFC Qualifier - Hebgen Lake
Jan. 30, Stan Shafer Memorial Ice Fishing Derby - Clark Canyon Reservoir
North-central Montana, Region 4
Jan. 2, Scheels Ice Fishing Derby - Wadsworth Pond
Jan. 23, Western Bar Ice Fishing Derby - Willow Creek Reservoir
Jan. 23-24, Broadwater Lions Club Perch Derby - Canyon Ferry Reservoir
Northeastern Montana, Region 6
Jan. 30, Murph's 10th Annual Memorial Ice Fishing Tournament - Nelson Reservoir
Jan. 30-31, Fresno Ice Derby, 5th Annual - Fresno Reservoir
Feb. 20, 19th Annual Glasgow Chamber Ice Fishing Derby - Fort Peck/Marina Bay
Feb. 20, Hell Creek Ice Fishing Tournament - Fort Peck/Hell Creek Bay
Participants must comply with state fishing regulations, including daily and possession limits. Some contests require catch-and-release fishing and participants in these contests may not keep any fish. Contact information for each contest can be found at FWP's website at fwp.mt.gov. Click on "Fishing", then "Fishing Contests."
Lakes and Fishing Reports
Fishing Report -
Now that we are into the Ice season in most areas around the state please refer to the following website for up to minute Ice Fishing reports, conditions, weather and a great way to keep in contact with other fisherman in your area. I highly recomend creating a login so you track your area an be part of the blog. www.iceshanty.com
Fort Peck and Canyon Ferry Spawning Report 2015
The 2015 walleye spawn is officially underway in the Big Dry Arm of Fort Peck Reservoir. However, Mother Nature isn’t sure what time of year it is. Two days ago water surface temperatures were approaching 55 degrees in the shallower areas were our trap nets are located. Today water temperatures dropped to 46 degrees due to the cold front that moved through. In fact, we actually experienced a few snowflakes while checking our trap nets. It’s hard to believe temperatures were in the upper 70’s a couple days ago and we were wearing t-shirts.
The warm and stable weather a few days ago managed to trigger a few walleye to start cruising the shorelines. As with the beginning of every walleye spawn, male walleye tend to be more abundant. That pattern holds true once again. A majority of the walleye captured in the trap nets were males, but we also captured a few green (not releasing eggs) females.
Photo: Jeff Brost with one of the first green female walleye of the season.
Water temperatures in the Big Dry Arm of Fort Peck Reservoir are still cool but have remained stable since the last update. Water surface temperatures this morning were 43-44 degrees throughout our trap netting locations. Since water temperatures are cool and it's still early in the season, walleye spawning activity remains slow. Even though we haven't captured large numbers of walleye yet, we've been collecting enough green females over the last several days where their beginning to add up. We're currently holding 79 green females in our holding pens. We'll continue to hold and monitor these female walleye until they ripen (release eggs). Warmer weather is needed for them to ripen, but it looks like another cold front may be headed our way.
Photo: Some great help from Tim, Justin, and Carl Zabrocki. Thanks a bunch guys!
Brrrrrr….. The weather has taken a turn for the worse in the Big Dry Arm of Fort Peck Reservoir. The cold front I mentioned in the last update made its presence known today. As you can imagine, water temperatures haven't warmed up. Water surface temperatures were 42-44 degrees today while checking our trap nets. This continued cooling trend hasn't prompted much of an increase in walleye spawning activity.
Numbers of green female walleye captured in trap nets decreased from 36 on Sunday to 21 today. However, we were finally able to capture enough ripe female walleye in the trap nets (over the last few days) and a few ripes from the holding pens to hold the first egg-take of the season. We collected 3.2 million eggs from 26 females on Sunday. We're on the board for the year, but we still have a way to reach our goal of 50 million eggs.
Photo: Rich Hjort with a nice walleye on a chilly day
Weather conditions have improved in the Big Dry Arm of Fort Peck Reservoir since the last update. The cold front that moved through the area wasn't as severe as it could’ve been. The snow has melted and water surface temperatures warmed to 43-45 degrees today while checking our trap nets. Walleye spawning activity also seems to be picking up slowly since the last update. Today we captured 12 green females compared to 9 green females on Tuesday. In addition, we are starting to see more ripe female walleye in the trap net and a few more ripen in our holding pens. The continued increase in ripe females allowed us to hold our second egg-take of the season. Approximately 8.5 million eggs were collected today from 43 large, egg-laden walleye. This brings the total to 11.8 million eggs for the season.
Photo: Matt Baxter striping eggs from a ripe female walleye.
The weather conditions continue to be favorable in the Big Dry Arm of Fort Peck Reservoir. However, the last two days have been a little bumpy in the boats when venturing out on the water. Water surface temperatures today were 47-49 degrees while checking our trap nets. This gradual warming trend has prompted an increase in walleye spawning activity over the last several days.
Numbers of green female walleye collected have increased up to 37 per day which is a good increase from the 12 we captured last Wednesday. In addition, numbers of ripe females captured in trap nets have steadily increased to around 20 per day. This is a definite sign that we're nearing the peak spawning period. We’ve also held three more egg-takes since the last update due to the increased numbers of ripe female walleye. These multiple egg-takes have allowed us to climb towards the 20 million mark as of today. Stay tuned for more up-to-date numbers on the egg total.
Photo: Ron Hunziker with a dandy walleye on a breezy day.
It was an enjoyable day to be on a boat in the Big Dry Arm of Fort Peck Reservoir. The winds finally subsided since the last update. In fact, we were unable to check our trap nets yesterday due to the high winds that gusted upwards of 40 miles per hour. Water surface temperatures today ranged from 48-51 degrees while checking our trap nets. These stable water temperatures continue to beneficial for walleye spawning activity.
Numbers of female walleye collected over the last few days are holding steady. Today we collected 30 green and 26 ripe females. It’s encouraging to still some green female being captured indicating the walleye spawn is still going. Egg collection efforts have been steady as well. We’ve managed to hold three additional egg-takes since the last update and each take has given us 4-5 million more eggs each time. This should put us somewhere in the neighborhood of 35 million eggs for the season.
Photo: Mallory Kelley and Daniel Kuske from Rocky Mountain College wrangling some Fort Peck walleye. Great job guys!
Weather conditions have remained stable in the Big Dry Arm of Fort Peck Reservoir since the last update. However, the wind has been anything but stable… Water surface temperatures today were 48-50 while checking our trap nets. These stable temperatures have still been conducive for walleye spawning activity.
Decent numbers of female walleye continue to be collected, but they seem to be tapering off slightly since the last update. Today we managed to collect 20 green and 24 ripe female from our trap nets. However, we’ve also collected some spent (released eggs) female walleye over the last few days while checking our trap nets. This is an indication that we are on the downhill slide of the walleye spawn. It’s not surprising since the walleye spawning activity has been taking place for nearly three weeks now.
Egg-taking efforts have remained steady as well due to the numbers of ripe female walleye captured in the trap nets and from our holding pens. These efforts have given us approximately 5 million eggs each day over the last four days. This brings the grand total to 55 million eggs for the year. This means we’ve met our goal, but we’ll collect a few more over the next couple days just to be on the safe side.
Photo: Daryl Northup with a hefty female walleye.
The walleye egg-taking operation has concluded in the Big Dry Arm of Fort Peck Reservoir. With the dwindling number of walleye and surpassing our egg-take goal, we’ve pulled our trap nets for the 2015 season. Walleye spawning activity has wrapped up as indicated by the spent females and lack of green females collected. However, other species such as smallmouth buffalo are now cruising the shorelines indicating that other spawning activity will soon be taking place.
So what were the results from this year? Well, we managed to collect a few more eggs since the last update bringing the grand total to 64 million eggs for the season. This will give us plenty of eggs that will turn into fry to stock all the rearing ponds at the Fort Peck and Miles City fish hatcheries. These fry will then grown into fingerlings after approximately one month.
On behalf of the fisheries and hatchery staff, I would like to thank all the volunteers who contributed to a very successful season. 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 who ventures out to wet a line this summer!
Photo: Jeff Brost with a smallmouth buffalo
It has been a very foul spring on Canyon Ferry Reservoir and our annual walleye spawning survey numbers are proof. We launched traps this year on March 30th, which is the earliest date in the last 6 years, but only the west shore trap has been active since the launch date and has produce very few walleye. The trap near Pond 1 has only fish 4 nights, due to foul weather and wind, and conditions simply haven’t provided even close to optimal spawning conditions for walleye. To date we’ve handled 51 walleye and 685 rainbow trout. However, the peak of the walleye spawn is typically around April 20th, so next week things might just pop!
FWP is in the initial phases of a radio telemetry project to monitor how walleye, northern pike, and brown trout move between the reservoir and river upstream. Our task is to surgically implant 16 walleye, 10 northern pike, and 10 brown trout with radios and track them over the next two years. So far we’ve been able to implant two walleye and three brown trout with radios and plan to get the remaining radios out this spring/early summer. We’ll be implanting fish in the reservoir during the spring spawning survey and electrofishing, or using other capture techniques, for fish in the river. The attached picture is from the first walleye implanted with a radio this spring!
If you’re interested in joining us for a day on the water this spring please contact Adam Strainer at 406-495-3263
It’s been a while since our last report, but that’s due to the fact there really isn’t all that much to report. The spawn has yet to materialize at our standard locations on the south end of Canyon Ferry Reservoir or mother nature hasn’t allow us to leave our traps out fishing. Recent springtime weather patterns simply haven’t produced optimal conditions and the lack of fish continue to tell the same story. Also, water levels in the reservoir are higher than normal for this time of year and effective sampling may potentially be a factor in 2015. To date we’ve sampled 105 walleye, primarily males, and almost 900 rainbow trout.
We’ll continue to run traps through the end of this week or potentially for the duration of the current warm weather pattern. Smaller walleye, fewer rainbow trout, and an increase in the number of suckers is what FWP staff is seeing right now in the reservoir and is typically an indicator that the spawning window is closing. But FWP staff will stay after it until other standardized sampling surveys begin to overlap.
Also, in the previous update I mentioned that we’re at the beginning of a radio telemetry project to monitor movements of walleye, northern pike, and brown trout between the reservoir and river upstream. To date we’ve surgically implanted 7 brown trout in the river, 5 walleye in the river and 4 walleye in the reservoir. Our goal is to implant 10 total brown trout, 10 total norther pike and 8 walleye each in the river and reservoir, respectively. So, we’re getting closer to meeting our objectives for brown trout and walleye. We have yet to sample a northern pike this spring in either the river or reservoir. We’ll remain steadfast.
Cheers and enjoy the pleasant weather!
October Fishing Tips
Taking “Boat” Control of the Situation
By Gary Parsons and Keith Kavajecz
One of the things that help to keep us at the top of our game as Professional Anglers is to continually learn and improve on our fishing skills. Much of that has to do with learning to implement new technology and the latest “tools of the trade” into our on-the-water activities. If there is one area that we feel we were able to make huge strides in this past couple seasons it is in boat control, and a huge part of that improvement has to do with the advancements in electric trolling motor design and the marriage of bow-mount steering and GPS to dramatically increase the boat control aspects of our fishing.
The tool that has lead the way in our boat control advancements the past couple seasons is MotorGuide’s Xi5 bowmount trolling motor. It wasn’t that long ago that a bowmount trolling motor on a walleye boat was something that was used in only a couple techniques and many walleye anglers considered it an after-thought or optional device in many cases. That is no longer the case. The bowmount has become one of the proprietary tools on walleye boats and with the advent of GPS technology and remote control convenience, the bowmount now makes many different walleye presentations so much easier to perform than in the past.
First of all, let’s talk about our favorite feature of the Xi5 that really adds to the ease of control with this motor. It has a Key Fob-style Remote Control!! Talk about a feature every guy (and gals too) can fall in love with! And unlike the remote for your TV, you won’t be so apt to lose this one because it comes with a lanyard so you wear it around your neck … (which actually gives us a good idea regarding the TV remote at home …).
Seriously though, as anglers, we always have a lot going on in the process of fishing so a remote control for the bowmount motor just makes a ton of sense. Having all your motor’s controls at your finger tips simply makes fishing with this motor a pleasure. Controls include the basics like on/off, turn left, turn right, speed up and slow down. But there are some very special features with the Xi5 that make it stand out, like Heading Lock, Cruise Control, Record Route, Play Route and Anchor Mode.
In order to fully explain these features of the Xi5 and how we use them, let’s look at some key situations where this motor has dramatically changed the way we fish so you may better understand how you too can make your walleye fishing more effective by using it.
By now many of you have seen the TV episode or read our article where we highlight the tactic of Shivering for walleyes. That technique is one in particular that is greatly enhanced by utilizing some of the key features of the Xi5. In this technique, we graph likely areas until fish are actually marked on our locator, and then use the Xi5 to hold us in position over those fish to target them. This could obviously be done with a conventional trolling motor, but consider how
much easier it’s made with the Xi5. Once we have marked fish on our sonar, we mark them with a waypoint on the GPS, position the boat within casting distance and utilize the Key Fob control for our MotorGuide Xi5 to set the motor in “Anchor Mode” which then holds the boat in place. No worries about having to constantly adjust the motor manually to stay on the spot! Once you set the Anchor Mode, the motor takes over to hold your position. It works whether you’re fishing in flat calm conditions or 4 foot rollers. And making small adjustments to your position is effortless; just use the Key Fob control to “jog” slightly in any direction with the touch of a button.
Another situation we highlighted on The Next Bite TV this past season was using the Xi5, again in Anchor Mode, to hold in current in order to cast to cover in a small river. Think about it – the Anchor Mode alone has so many applications to a walleye angler that that feature alone will change the way you fish.
Heading Lock is another feature of the Xi5 that can be invaluable to help you stay on fish. We’ve used it for techniques such as Dragging (whether you’re fishing bottom bouncer rigs or a tactic like Jig Trolling). You simply line up the motor in the direction you want the boat to go, press the Heading Lock button, and the motor keeps you on that heading until you change it.
In trolling situations, we use Heading Lock to keep the boat direction on course while the kicker motor provides most of the speed control; this really helps keep you on course, hands free, in those pesky cross winds that can make trolling structure a real challenge.
You can combine the Heading Lock and Anchor features too. Say you’re fishing a long contour with live bait rigs using the heading Lock to keep you on course, and then you catch a fish. You can then hit the Anchor Mode on your Key Fob and fish that area more thoroughly before heading on to cover the rest of the structure.
Another cool thing with the MotorGuide Xi5 is you can marry it to your Lowrance electronics HDS unit using a MotorGuide Gateway. The Gateway is basically a cord that uses the NMEA Network port on the Lowrance HDS units allowing you to control the Xi5 right from the HDS unit. This adds a whole new dimension to your boat control. Once configured, you basically have the same controls on your HDS unit that you have on your Key Fob Remote, but with the addition of being able to do things like tell the trolling motor to anchor on a specific waypoint.
For instance, before when we talked about rigging along a contour, if you were to catch a fish, you could set a waypoint on that spot and then use the HDS unit to set the motor to anchor on that waypoint and it would take the boat to that spot and then go into Anchor Mode. Or, if you have a number of spots on a lake you can make a “milk run” from spot to spot by using a combination of the waypoints on your HDS unit and motor’s Anchor Mode feature.
Few things on our boats have changed the way we fish in the past couple seasons like the MotorGuide Xi5 trolling motor. If you struggle with boat control and feel that improving your ability to stay on active fish would be a huge factor in improving your walleye fishing, you need to seriously consider looking into
mounting a MotorGuide Xi5 on the bow of your boat. We guarantee you it will go a long way to helping you get your Next Bite!
If you have questions or comments on this or other articles from Gary Parsons and Keith Kavajecz, visit their website www.thenextbite.com.
Keith with a Walleye:
Few things on our boats have changed the way we fish in the past couple seasons like the MotorGuide Xi5 trolling motor.