Final Montana FWP AIS Report
All of Montana FWP’s watercraft inspection stations are now closed for the season except for one roving crew at Fort Peck, who will work until the end of September. Now that nearly all of the stations have closed we can focus on getting the last of the data entered and start preparing our annual report. The table below is NOT FINAL, many of our station’s data is not yet completely entered, but it gives a good idea of overall numbers and the most common types of violations our crews encountered this field season. I have also included a summary of illegally transported live fish that were found over the course of the summer.
We would like to give a huge thanks to all who helped make this season a safe and successful one, especially our tireless game wardens. THANK YOU!!!
We will be distributing our inspection station and monitoring reports as soon as they are completed. Contact Stacy Schmidt, Craig McLane or myself with any questions in the meantime.
Thank you, Linnaea Schroeer, Statewide Aquatic Invasive Species Liaison.
Lakes and Fishing Reports
Fishing Report -
Click on the link below for the Montana State wide Fishing report, update every Thursday.
August 14th Fishing Report
CANYON FERRY AND FORT PECK 2014
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.
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
Fishing TipsCutting Edge Boat Rigging – Bow to Stern by Keith Kavajecz & Gary Parsons
This time of year the boat-show season is winding down and anglers are pumped to get past the point of “thinking” about fishing and get out and actually do some fishing. Many of you are especially excited because perhaps you have a new boat to break-in, or maybe some new gear that you can’t wait to try out. Anticipation runs high as spring approaches, and that’s a good thing.
So it should be no surprise that we’re pretty excited for the new season too. Like many of you, we have some awesome new toys and tools that we are sure are going to put more walleyes in the boat this year. Of course, before all the fun begins, there’s some work that needs to be done; mainly rigging the boats. So let’s go over a few of the key accessories we will be rigging up with this season – from bow to stern. You might just get a couple ideas for your boat rigging to help you catch and land more walleyes this year.
Every year it seems we spend more and more time using tactics that have us fishing from the bow of our boats; tactics that require pin-point boat control and positioning. Add to that the fact that we have learned that in some trolling situations, controlling the bow of the boat is every bit as important to successful boat control as running the kicker motor in the back of the boat, and it quickly becomes apparent that the bowmount trolling motor is one of the most important boat control tools an angler can have on his boat. But, not just any trolling motor will have the features to help you in both types of scenarios.
This year the bows of our boats will be rigged with MotorGuide’s new Xi5 Wireless Trolling Motor. The Xi5 has features we have been begging for in a trolling motor for some time, plus a few we never dreamed of but are excited to put to use. Now GPS equipped trolling motors have been around a little while, but the Xi5 takes things to a new level with Pinpoint GPS technology. You can purchase the Xi5 with the Pinpoint feature installed, or purchase the Pinpoint as an add-on. Pinpoint GPS allows such operations as Anchor Mode, which holds the boat position on a fixed GPS coordinate.
We really learned the importance of this feature last summer on a trip to North Dakota’s Devil’s Lake. Gary had located some fish holding tight to a concrete bridge pillar and found the best way to fish them was by vertical jigging tight to the pillar. The problem was it was windy (a common thing in the Dakotas for sure). Now here Gary was, trying to keep his 21 foot boat as close to this concrete bridge pillar as possible while 2 foot waves are knocking him around while he was trying to vertical jig these walleyes; needless to say it was a boat control a nightmare. But Gary was proto-typing this new Xi5 trolling motor equipped with Pinpoint GPS so he thought he’d put it to the test. He set the Anchor Mode to keep his boat just off the pillar and over the fish, and he was able to take his mind off the trolling motor and concentrate on jigging. In fact, the trolling motor did such a good job of keeping him over the fish, he could watch his jig on his locator just as if he were ice fishing, and even was able to watch a fish come in under his boat, he raised the jig off the bottom and he caught the fish as he watched it play out on the locator screen. Without the trolling motor keeping him in place like that, he would never have been able to do that.
Now while the Xi5 can be equipped with the Pinpoint GPS, word is that in the not-too-distant future these motors will be able to be integrated right to your Lowrance network in your boat. More on that when it becomes available, but one thing that is available from Lowrance right now that we feel you really need to look at is their Insight Genesis mapping program. Basically this is a service you can subscribe to that allows you to upload saved sonar and GPS data from an SD card to the Insight Genesis site and get detailed maps you can save back on an SD card and use in your Lowrance unit. This has applications for all anglers, but in particular if you fish a lake or reservoir that has little in the way of mapping cards available for it already. And from our experience, even lakes that do have map cards available, the added detail you will get using Insight genesis makes it more than worthwhile.
Of course we’re talking rigging here, and when it comes to rigging and mounting your electronics, positioning, stability and security are high on the priority list when choosing your electronics mounting options. The Lowrance HDS-10 Gen 2 and the HDS-12 Gen-2 Touch units we mount on our boats are heavy, and in order to safely and securely mount these we searched long and hard and tried several good products. But when we came across the Cisco Fishing System’s electronics mount, we knew we had our winner. The Cisco Sure-Lok Electronics Mount is made of machined aluminum and features a mounting plate that will accommodate a wide range of units and a positive-locking head that can be adjusted to any angle. And when these mounts are locked into place, they are locked! Pounding through rough water is no problem – the position you lock the unit into is where it’s going to stay.
And Cisco doesn’t just make electronics mounts – in fact we love their line of machined aluminum rod holders too. By going with the machine aluminum rod holders over plastic ones, we never have to worry that a rod holder is going to break or give-way if a rod gets snagged while we’re trolling. In fact, we have worked closely with Cisco’s team to help design the new Long Cradle rod holder that works great for walleye and muskie trolling applications. Cisco rod holders allow for a wide range of mounting options from rail mounts, permanent mounts, track-systems and even riser mounts so you can customize your rod holder layout to fit your style fishing and your boat perfectly. Cisco also builds a trolling motor stabilizer mount that is the best we’ve ever used. Now as we look toward the back of the boat, one thing on our boats the past couple seasons that stands out (literally), is our Power-Pole. When these first came out you only saw them on bass boats and in-shore salt water rigs, but walleye fishermen are learning every year, these can be an invaluable tool to help you in so many walleye fishing situations. Not only is the Power-Pole an awesome shallow water anchoring system perfect for keeping you in place for shallow water pitching and casting presentations, but since they introduced the Drift Paddle last year, the applications to walleye fishing increased significantly. For instance, consider a situation where you need to troll really slowly, like 1 to 1.75 mph. With the Mercury Pro-4 Verado mounted on our Nitro ZV-21’s, we can get the boat to troll down to a speed of about 2.8 to 3 mph. By deploying the Power-Pole with the Drift Paddle attachment, we can slow down to 1.7 mph. And by using this set-up, it allows us to operate from the console seat as oppo sed to standing at the kicker motor all day, which in big waves can be a real advantage.
Now obviously there’s a lot to fully equipping the ultimate walleye fishing machine, and we’ve really only touched on a few of the highlights here. But you now have some ideas that you can incorporate when decking out your walleye boat for this coming season so that you’re fully ready to get your Next Bite.