SPAWNING

2019 FORT PECK

April 26th

The weather has remained favorable in the Big Dry Arm of Fort Peck Reservoir. Water surface temperatures have continued to hover in the low to mid-50’s throughout our trap netting locations. However, numbers of spawning walleye appear to be dwindling. It also looks like nasty cold front is headed our way this weekend with rain/snow mix and high winds.

Nearly all female walleye captured over the last several days have either been ripe or spent. Very few greens have been collected. Our holding pens which were holding over 100 green females a week ago, have now dropped down to only 20 green females that don’t seem to be ripening up. In addition, numbers of ripe female walleye have continued to become more scarce over the past few days.

We’ve managed to hold a small egg-take each day since the last update. These small egg-takes have averaged close to 2.5 million eggs each time. However, we only managed to capture 7 ripe female walleye today (4-26) for only a million more eggs. This should bring the total to approximately 63 million eggs for the season. With us meeting our goal of 60 million eggs and declining numbers of spawning walleye, we’ve decided to call it a season. On behalf of the fisheries and hatchery staff at Fort Peck, I’d like to thank all the volunteers who assisted with this years efforts. It was greatly appreciated and best of luck fishing this year!

April 22nd

The weather has remained stable in the Big Dry Arm area of Fort Peck Reservoir and water temperatures have really warmed since the last update. Water surface temperatures are now ranging from 50 to 57 degrees throughout our trap netting locations. It appears these warmer water temperatures have really kicked walleye spawning activity into high gear.

Most trap nets seem to be catching decent numbers of walleye, but there are definitely some trap nets that have been more productive than others. In fact, one trap net captured 24 ripe females, 12 green females, 13 males, and 8 spent females (released eggs) in one day. It appears we have neared the peak and may actually be headed on the downhill slide of things based on some of the high proportion of ripe females and more spent females starting to show up.

The high numbers of ripe female walleye have allowed us to collect a good number of eggs over the last several days. We’ve held three more egg-takes since the last update which will give us another 14 million more eggs. This should bring the total to 52 million eggs. It looks like we’ll continue our efforts throughout the week in hopes of gathering a few more eggs, but it’s quite possible things could start winding down in the near future.

April 19th

Jason Kemp and Jack Morehouse
Don Schleglemilch and Doug Voit

Weather conditions have remained favorable for the most part in the Big Dry Arm of Fort Peck Reservoir. Other than a few small showers that passed through the area, temperatures have remained steady and increased slightly. Water surface temperatures are now ranging from 46 to 52 degrees throughout our trap netting locations. This means we’ve observed an increase in walleye spawning activity.

Numbers of walleye per net have seemed to increase throughout our trap netting area. By the looks of things we could be nearing the “peak” of the spawn based on the proportion of ripes vs. green female walleye collected. There are definitely a good amount of greens being collected but more ripe female walleye seem to be showing up in our trap nets than earlier on when water temperatures were cooler.

Thanks to the good number of ripe walleye collected and green females that ripened in the holding pens, we’ve managed to hold three more egg-takes since the last update. And they’ve been good some pretty good-sized ones. On Wednesday we collected close 5 million eggs, Thursday we collected almost 9 million eggs, and today (Friday) we collected close to 7 million more eggs. This gives us roughly 21 million eggs over the last three days and should put us somewhere around 38 million total eggs so far. Let’s hope we can keep this momentum going!

Photo: Don Schlegelmilch and Doug Voigt transferring to green females to the holding pens to ripen up.

Photo: Jaxson Kemp and Jack Morehouse with a BIG green female captured. Great job guys and thanks for the help!

April 16th

The weather has continued to cooperate for us in the Big Dry Arm area of Fort Peck Reservoir. We’ve been ramping up our efforts and setting more trap nets in search for spawning walleye. Water temperatures have steadily increased to 50 degrees in some of the shallow areas of our trap netting locations.

It appears numbers of walleye captured per net have increased as well with the warming water temperatures. We’re continuing to see some good numbers of male walleye (and some big ones up to 26 inches) along with better numbers of green and ripe female walleye. Thanks to the increased numbers of ripe female walleye collected and greens that have ripened up in the holding pens, we’ve been able to hold three more egg-takes since the last update.

On Sunday we collected 3.3 million, Monday we collected 4.2, and today we collected another 7.1 million more eggs. With these egg-takes, we’ve brought out total to approximately 17.5 million eggs. In addition, we’re also holding close to 100 green female walleye in our holding pens waiting to ripen up. This is encouraging news as the weather forecast looks promising for most of the week so let’s hope we can keep things rolling!

Photo: Fynn Sukut with a nice green female captured from one of the trap nets.

Photo: Hunter and Scott Collinsworth doing some walleye wrangling with a HEFTY green female walleye.

Photo: A trap net with walleye tails for days!

4/13/2019

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

[fwp.mt.gov]Montana Fish, Wildlife & Parks, Region 6


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