Biologists begin researching if Noxon Reservoir walleye population can be controlled
April Montana News
Click on the link below to read all about the April edition of Hunting and Fishing in Montana
2014 AIS Summit - Followup Summary
COORDINATION AND COLLABORATION
• Develop an Memorandum of Agreement or Understanding between FWP, DNRC, MDA, MDT to clarify authorities as described the draft AIS Blueprint
• The AIS Program, or aspects of the program need more funding and support at all levels, for all 4 agencies and for all invasive species. This message needs to reach the Legislature.
o E.g. MDA needs more support for the Certified Weed Seed Free hay program
• Submit letters of support to the Governor’s Office regarding the Invasive Species Council
• In-state data-sharing: Convene expertise in Montana from DNRC, FWP and NRIS to discuss options for collaboration and data housing to make data available to all partners.
• There is a need for increased communication with counties. Counties also need increased resources.
• What is our ability to contact absentee landowners and increase compliance?
• Incorporate technologies that are available.
EARLY DETECTION AND MONITORING
• Develop standard sampling techniques (monitoring, eDNA, etc)
• Increase volunteer efforts and citizen science opportunities
o Opportunities for routine monitoring
• Develop a statewide monitoring list for all AIS taxa
• Is there an opportunity to work with DEQ to collect water samples?
• MDT Motor Carrier Services needs photos of infested boats and other conveyances
• What are the options to expand/implement MDT inspections at Ports of Entry?
• Review hours of operation for Watercraft Inspection Stations
• How should we address shrink-wrapped boats?
• Reach out to state firefighting (DNRC) efforts to see if there are efforts to minimize AIS Spread during firefighting efforts.
CONTROL AND ERADICATION
• Reach out to the Northwest Power Planning Council to garner support for Flowering Rush research on control
• Develop unified protocols for management and response, including roles in a Rapid Response effort
• Clarify emergency response authority, e.g. who can close a waterbody?
EDUCATION AND OUTREACH
• Awareness has increased…how do we change behavior
• Expand outreach to other vectors, e.g. float planes
• Expand outreach to irrigators, watercraft dealers (point of sale), and watercraft manufacturers
• Explore options for consistency in messaging, regionally and in-state
• Consider using focus group testing for messaging
• Outreach to Legislators to increase awareness on AIS
• Invasive Species compliance with invasive species laws.
• What clarifications on authority do counties need?
• Develop a means to delegate authority for watercraft inspection stations
• WY has rigorous (mandatory) stop and inspect authority (by any peace officer). Is this a model for MT?
• WY law states that "any conveyance (of water) must be inspected". Is this a model for MT?
• Legislatively defined roles in a Rapid Response Plan. Is this needed on a legislative level?
• Is there a need for better statutory rules around dredging that take into consideration ALL aquatic habitat and resources?
• There is a need for a dedicated source of stable long-term funding ensuring that there are no funding gaps between legislative years and fiscal years.
• There are more requests for DNRC funds and AG funds than funds that exist.
• Make sure there is AIS funding in the Governor’ base budget?
• Are there options for local mill levies to fund AIS issues?
Fishing Report -
Fishing Report - April 22nd
Canyon Ferry: Rainbow trout are cruising shorelines throughout the reservoir and angler are doing well. Shoreline anglers are having success at traditional access points using worms, spawn sacks or various bead head nymph patterns. Boat anglers are doing well on the north end of the reservoir while anchored and casting to shore or trolling attractors at shallow depths. Fishing has been slow for walleye, yellow perch or ling. Boat launch access is limited due to low reservoir levels. Proceed with caution. Adam Strainer, FWP, Helena
Hauser: Rainbow fishing is very good from both shore and boat. Shore fishing is best at York Bridge while using leech pattern flies or pink nymphs. Riverside has produced rainbows from shore on worms. Boat anglers are finding rainbows while trolling orange or gold crankbaits around White Sandy and Black Sandy. Jigs are catching rainbows as well. Lake Helena walleye fishing is slow. Troy Humphrey, FWP, Helena
Holter: Good rainbow fishing can be found while trolling gold/silver crankbaits throughout the reservoir. Shore action is fair around Holter Lake Ramp and Log Gulch while using flies. Gates of the Mountains is producing some rainbows on worms. Not many rainbows have come into shore yet, but they will as water temps warm up. Walleye fishing is slow. Troy Humphrey, FWP, Helena
CANYON FERRY AND FORT PECK 2014
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 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.