With spring thaw occurring and significant snowmelt running through prairie streams, Montana Fish, Wildlife & Parks conducted a quick tour to evaluate potential for spring trout stocking in the Cherry Creek area of Prairie County in Region 7.
Because ponds in this area experienced a significant lapse in water recharge during the springs of 2017 and 2018, the fisheries perished a year ago (2017/2018 winter) or during hot summer months in 2018. Most of these ponds had less than five feet of water going into the recent winter, a prescription for limited fish survival.
With the poor water conditions experienced the last 24 months in the Cherry Creek area, Clarks Reservoir was about the only pond with fish going into the 2018/2019 winter. Following is a summary of what was seen for water and fish conditions at four Cherry Creek area ponds.
Cherry Creek Spring Pond Inspections March 27, 2019:
- Clarks Reservoir: 10 feet deep, 2-3 feet from spilling; 80% ice covered; observed 12 dead trout & numerous dead tiger salamanders (see pictures titled Clark Reservoir).
- South Fork: 12 feet deep, less than 1 foot from spill tube; 5% ice covered; observed a couple dead tiger salamanders.
- Grants Reservoir: full, water running out spillway; 90% ice cover, no depth collected; 10 dead tiger salamanders.
- Homestead Reservoir: full, 1 foot over spillway tube, tube is damaged; 90% ice cover; 15 feet deep; 3 dead tiger salamanders, no fish.
- Spring trout stocking from the Miles City hatchery is planned for the last two weeks of April. Following are the proposed stocking numbers by pond in the Cherry Creek area for two-inch-long fingerling Arlee rainbow trout:
- Clarks Reservoir – 4,000; Grants Reservoir – 500; Harms Reservoir – 1,000; Homestead Reservoir – 1,000; Silvertip Reservoir – 1,000; South Fork Reservoir – 500.
Trout growth is fast in prairie ponds, and if water depth is sufficient to sustain fish through the hot period of July and August, these small trout should be 7 to 9 inches long by October 2019.
Clarks Reservoir in the Cherry Creek area was about the only area pond with fish left going into the winter, though a recent tour detected some dead fish and salamanders. Homestead Reservoir is currently spilling over. Clarks Reservoir in the Cherry Creek area was about the only area pond with fish left going into the winter, though a recent tour detected some dead fish and salamanders. Homestead Reservoir, far right, is currently spilling over.
(via MT FWP)