Do we need to be suppressing our walleye population?
By angelamontana

Posted: September 9, 2019

If you were to look at the possession limits and catch limits of walleye in the central district of Montana you might notice a trend. High daily limits with doubled possession limits. Is this necessary? For ages it has been believed that walleye will single handedly wipe out a population of trout. That’s simply not true. Let’s take a look at the Missouri River below Holter Dam. Known to many of out of state fly fishing clients as blue ribbon trout fishing. Before 2011 the limit on walleye was the standard state limit of 5 daily. Then FWP commission voted to change it to unlimited harvest in that section of river. This was done to appease the trout outfitters because they were concerned the walleye would be detrimental to the population of non native trout they make their money fishing for. However something most folks don’t realize is that our fwp biologist conducted a multi year study below holter to see how, if at all the “predator” fish would affect the river. Titled, “An evaluation of walleye in the missouri river between holter dam and great falls”. The 38 page report talks about creel surveys, angling pressure, tracked walleye (radio and tags), disease, water flow, drought, etc. In the conclusion of the study it clearly explains that things like drought from 99’-07’, whirling disease from 94’-2010’ on 53% of the spawning beds used by trout, walleye population increasing 2.3-14times since pre 1996, and lastly a angler use day number raising by nearly 50,000 in just the years from 95’-01’. Despite all of those factors the trout numbers below holter dam are still amazing and it still continues to be a blue ribbon trout fishery. So why are we continuing to try to suppress the walleye population? In the proposed regs for 2020 fwp would like to implement a 20 walleye limit below holter dam. This might seem like a step in the right direction to most. Is it really? Seems to me that 20 walleye a day is a rather high number of fish to be able to keep. FWP has put this limit in place at canyon ferry to lower the number of walleye in the lake. My question is, if the walleye below holter aren’t hurting the trout population then why do we need such liberal limits on them?? In my opinion all sections of the Missouri River should have a more strict limit on the walleye. Express your opinion to fwp and let them know that they should follow their own studies based on science when making the decisions below holter dam.

Troy Warburton

Toston, Montana