Canyon Ferry boat access likely to not be open for waterfowl season
By Moosetrack Megan

Posted: September 17, 2016

(BOZEMAN, Mont.)—Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks is alerting hunters to low water levels in Ponds 2, 3, and 4 on the Canyon Ferry Wildlife Management Area for the youth waterfowl season (Sept. 24-25) and for the general waterfowl opener on October 1.


According to FWP’s Area Biologist Adam Grove, hunters should not expect be able to make use of the primitive boat ramps in those ponds through the early part of the general waterfowl season.


“Until water levels come up significantly, about the only way you’ll be able to get a boat in the ponds is to carry it out to the water,” said Grove.


Grove said water levels in Ponds 2, 3 and 4 are about 1 to 2 feet below desired levels. That’s because of the low water level in the Missouri River affecting water intake rates to the ponds.


Pond 3 is in the best shape according to Grove, with Pond 4 likely suffering lowest water levels.


“Pond 3 might be close to desired levels by the time of the general waterfowl opener, but we’ll have to wait and see how things play out.”


In addition to the Missouri’s low water, water levels in the Canyon Ferry ponds are down for a variety of reasons.  Pond 4 was totally drawn down starting last summer to achieve an over-the-winter carp kill and to promote growth of desired aquatic vegetation. Meanwhile, water levels in Ponds 2 and 3 were intentionally dropped about 6 inches or so earlier this summer to simulate a late summer water draw down, and it’s taking longer than expected to bring water levels back up.


Grove said the biggest problem is that the ponds on the Canyon Ferry WMA aren’t a closed system. Because of the way the ponds and the dikes were originally constructed, water is lost from the duck ponds to the Reservoir via subsurface seepage whenever water levels in the Canyon Ferry Reservoir are below the pond levels.


“We need the water level in the Missouri River to come up to get more water in the two canals that supply water to those ponds.  Hopefully, we’ll get a bunch of moisture in the upper Missouri River watershed here in the next few weeks to bring the water level in the river up.”