It’s official, the 2019 walleye trap netting and egg collection is underway on Fort Peck Reservoir. The ice has finally receded and we’ve managed to get our gear in the water. Over the last couple of days, we’ve been able to get our spawning barges, holding pens, and some trap nets in the water to begin our operation. Today was actually our third day of checking nets and things have looked promising so far.

Temperatures have been relatively cool throughout our trap netting locations and there are even a few areas where sheets of ice remain along the shoreline. Water surface temperatures have been ranging from 40 to 47 degrees in the Big Dry Arm area with the more shallow areas holding the warmer water. As a result, we’ve seen some walleye spawning activity starting to occur. We’ve been able to capture some decent numbers of male walleye, which seems to be a typically pattern early in the spawning phase, along with some green (holding eggs) and an occasionally ripe (releasing eggs) female.

Due to a few ripe female walleye captured in trap nets and few that have ripened in our holding pens, we were able to hold our first egg-take of the season today. We ended up spawning 25 female walleyes that yielded roughly 10 quarts of eggs giving us close to 2.5 million eggs. While this isn’t a huge amount of eggs at the moment, it’s a small step towards our goal for the season. The weather forecast looks promising over the next few days which should help with the walleye spawning activity.

Photo: Todd Young and BJ Kemp with two dandy green female walleye collected while checking trap nets

Photo:  Ryan Lott collecting eggs from one of the first ripe female walleye of the season.

Photo:  A pan of walleye eggs being fertilized and gently mixed with feathers.

Heath Headley

Fisheries Biologist

Fisheries Division

[]Montana Fish, Wildlife & Parks, Region 6

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